Mitochondrial biogenesis is intimately dependent on the coordinated expression of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes that is necessary for the assembly and function of the respiratory complexes to produce most of the energy required by cells. Although highly compacted in animals, the mitochondrial genome and its expression are essential for survival, development, and optimal energy production. The machinery that regulates gene expression within mitochondria is localised within the same compartment and, like in their ancestors, the bacteria, this machinery does not use membrane-based compartmentalisation to order the gene expression pathway. Therefore, the lifecycle of mitochondrial RNAs from transcription through processing, maturation, translation to turnover is mediated by a gamut of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), all contained within the mitochondrial matrix milieu. Recent discoveries indicate that multiple processes regulating RNA metabolism occur at once but since mitochondria have a new complement of RBPs, many evolved de novo from nuclear genes, we are left wondering how co-ordinated are these processes? Here, we review recently identified examples of the co-ordinated and stochastic processes that govern the mitochondrial transcriptome. These new discoveries reveal the complexity of mitochondrial gene expression and the need for its in-depth exploration to understand how these organelles can respond to the energy demands of the cell.

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