Emerging functions of mammalian and plant mTERFs

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Sep;1847(9):786-97. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2014.12.009. Epub 2015 Jan 10.


Organellar gene expression (OGE) is crucial for plant development, respiration and photosynthesis, but the mechanisms that control it are still largely unclear. Thus, OGE requires various nucleus-encoded proteins that promote transcription, splicing, trimming and editing of organellar RNAs, and regulate their translation. In mammals, members of the mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF) family play important roles in OGE. Intriguingly, three of the four mammalian mTERFs do not actually terminate transcription, as their designation suggests, but appear to function in antisense transcription termination and ribosome biogenesis. During the evolution of land plants, the mTERF family has expanded to approximately 30 members, but knowledge of their function in photosynthetic organisms remains sparse. Here, we review recent advances in the characterization of mterf mutants in mammals and photosynthetic organisms, focusing particularly on the progress made in elucidating their molecular functions in the last two years. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Chloroplast biogenesis.

Keywords: Chloroplast; Mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF); Mitochondrion; Organellar gene expression; mTERF function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Genome, Plant
  • Leucine Zippers / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / physiology*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • MTERF1 protein, human
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Plant Proteins