tRNA-Dependent Import of a Transit Sequence-Less Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase (LeuRS2) into the Mitochondria of Arabidopsis

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 7;22(8):3808. doi: 10.3390/ijms22083808.


Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AaRS) charge tRNAs with amino acids for protein translation. In plants, cytoplasmic, mitochondrial, and chloroplast AaRS exist that are all coded for by nuclear genes and must be imported from the cytosol. In addition, only a few of the mitochondrial tRNAs needed for translation are encoded in mitochondrial DNA. Despite considerable progress made over the last few years, still little is known how the bulk of cytosolic AaRS and respective tRNAs are transported into mitochondria. Here, we report the identification of a protein complex that ties AaRS and tRNA import into the mitochondria of Arabidopsis thaliana. Using leucyl-tRNA synthetase 2 (LeuRS2) as a model for a mitochondrial signal peptide (MSP)-less precursor, a ≈30 kDa protein was identified that interacts with LeuRS2 during import. The protein identified is identical with a previously characterized mitochondrial protein designated HP30-2 (encoded by At3g49560) that contains a sterile alpha motif (SAM) similar to that found in RNA binding proteins. HP30-2 is part of a larger protein complex that contains with TIM22, TIM8, TIM9 and TIM10 four previously identified components of the translocase for MSP-less precursors. Lack of HP30-2 perturbed mitochondrial biogenesis and function and caused seedling lethality during greening, suggesting an essential role of HP30-2 in planta.

Keywords: PRAT proteins; cell death; mitochondria; organelle biogenesis; protein transport; transit sequence-less precursors.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Leucine-tRNA Ligase / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Organelle Biogenesis
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Transfer
  • Leucine-tRNA Ligase