Long noncoding RNAs coordinate functions between mitochondria and the nucleus

In animal cells, mitochondria are the primary powerhouses and metabolic factories. They also contain genomes and can produce mitochondrial-specific nucleic acids and proteins. To maintain homeostasis of the entire cell, an intense cross-talk between mitochondria and the nucleus, mediated by encoded noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), as well as proteins, is required. Long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) contain characteristic structures, and they are involved in the regulation of almost every stage of gene expression, as well as being implicated in a variety of disease states, such as cancer. In the coordinated signaling system, several lncRNAs, transcribed in the nucleus but residing in mitochondria, play a key role in regulating mitochondrial functions or dynamics. For example, RMRP, a component of the mitochondrial RNase MRP, is important for mitochondrial DNA replication and RNA processing, and the steroid receptor RNA activator, SRA, is a key modulator of hormone signaling and is present in both the nucleus and mitochondria. Some RNA-binding proteins maybe play a role in the lncRNAs transport system, such as HuR, GRSF1, SHARP, SLIRP, PPR, and PNPASE. Furthermore, a series of nuclear DNA-encoded lncRNAs were implicated in mitochondria-mediated apoptosis, mitochondrial bioenergetics and biosynthesis, and glutamine metabolism. The mitochondrial genome can also encode a set of lncRNAs, and they are divided into three categories: (1) lncND5, lncND6, and lncCyt b RNA; (2) chimeric mitochondrial DNA-encoded lncRNAs; and (3) putative mitochondrial DNA-encoded lncRNAs. It has been reported that the mitochondrial DNA-encoded lncRNAs appear to operate in the nucleus. The molecular mechanisms underlying trafficking of the mitochondrial DNA-encoded lncRNAs to the nucleus in mammals are only now beginning to emerge. In conclusion, both nuclear- and mitochondrial DNA-encoded lncRNAs mediate an intense intercompartmental cross-talk, which opens a rich field for investigation of the mechanism underlying the intercompartmental coordination and the maintenance of whole cell homeostasis.

Cross-talk between the nucleus and mitochondria by lncRNAs encoded by each genome for intercompartmental coordination and maintenance of whole cell homeostasis

Dong Y, Yoshitomi T, Hu JF, Cui J. (2017) Long noncoding RNAs coordinate functions between mitochondria and the nucleus. Epigenetics Chromatin 10(1):41. [article]

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