Abstract

Mitochondria are ubiquitous organelles present in the cytoplasm of all nucleated eukaryotic cells. These organelles are described as arising from a common ancestor but a comparison of numerous aspects of mitochondria between different organisms provides remarkable examples of divergent evolution. In humans, these organelles are of dual genetic origin, comprising ∼1500 nuclear-encoded proteins and thirteen that are encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Of the various functions that these organelles perform, it is only oxidative phosphorylation, which provides ATP as a source of chemical energy, that is dependent on synthesis of these thirteen mitochondrially encoded proteins. A prerequisite for this process of translation are the mitoribosomes. The recent revolution in cryo-electron microscopy has generated high-resolution mitoribosome structures and has undoubtedly revealed some of the most distinctive molecular aspects of the mitoribosomes from different organisms. However, we still lack a complete understanding of the mechanistic aspects of this process and many of the factors involved in post-transcriptional gene expression in mitochondria. This review reflects on the current knowledge and illustrates some of the striking differences that have been identified between mitochondria from a range of organisms.

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