Chloroplast RNA metabolism

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2010;61:125-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042809-112242.


The chloroplast genome encodes proteins required for photosynthesis, gene expression, and other essential organellar functions. Derived from a cyanobacterial ancestor, the chloroplast combines prokaryotic and eukaryotic features of gene expression and is regulated by many nucleus-encoded proteins. This review covers four major chloroplast posttranscriptional processes: RNA processing, editing, splicing, and turnover. RNA processing includes the generation of transcript 5' and 3' termini, as well as the cleavage of polycistronic transcripts. Editing converts specific C residues to U and often changes the amino acid that is specified by the edited codon. Chloroplasts feature introns of groups I and II, which undergo protein-facilitated cis- or trans-splicing in vivo. Each of these RNA-based processes involves proteins of the pentatricopeptide motif-containing family, which does not occur in prokaryotes. Plant-specific RNA-binding proteins may underpin the adaptation of the chloroplast to the eukaryotic context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Chloroplasts / genetics
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Chloroplast / genetics*
  • RNA, Chloroplast / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Chloroplast
  • RNA-Binding Proteins