PhD student, The University of Western Australia


Pentatricopeptide Repeat (PPR) Proteins are modular RNA-binding proteins with repeated 35-amino acid sequence motifs that control mitochondrial and plastid gene expression. They are being considered as a potential tool for manipulating gene expression in plants because they can recognise a wide range of different RNA sequences and the molecular basis for this sequence recognition is partially known and understood, allowing their specificity to be deliberately altered. Each PPR motif recognises and binds a single nucleotide with a 1:1 correspondence between contiguous protein motifs and RNA bases in the target RNA. This recognition is determined primarily by hydrogen bonding patterns between the RNA base and two amino acid side chains at specific positions in each PPR motif. Modifying these amino acids should alter target specificity. The project should expand our knowledge of RNA specificity and binding by PPR proteins in plant mitochondria and contribute to the ultimate goal of developing specific RNA targeting tools using PPR proteins that can be aimed at desired targets.