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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Complete mtDNA sequences of two millipedes suggest a new model for mitochondrial gene rearrangements: Duplication and non-random loss


We determined the complete mtDNA sequences of the millipedes Narceus annularus and Thyropygus sp. (Arthropoda: Diplopoda) and identified in both genomes all 37 genes typical for metazoan mtDNA. The arrangement of these genes is identical in the two millipedes, but differs from that inferred to be ancestral for arthropods by the location of four genes/gene clusters. This novel gene arrangement is unusual for animal mtDNA, in that genes with opposite transcriptional polarities are clustered in the genome and the two clusters are separated by two non-coding regions. The only exception to this pattern is the gene for cysteine tRNA, which is located in the part of the genome that otherwise contains all genes with the opposite transcriptional polarity. We suggest that a mechanism involving complete mtDNA duplication followed by the loss of genes, predetermined by their transcriptional polarity and location in the genome, could generate this gene arrangement from the one ancestral for arthropods. The proposed mechanism has important implications for phylogenetic inferences that are drawn on the basis of gene arrangement comparisons.

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