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Genetics. Jul 1995; 140(3): 1047–1060.
PMCID: PMC1206660

Nucleotide Sequence and Gene Organization of the Starfish Asterina Pectinifera Mitochondrial Genome


The 16,260-bp mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the starfish Asterina pectinifera has been sequenced. The genes for 13 proteins, two rRNAs and 22 tRNAs are organized in an extremely economical fashion, similar to those of other animal mtDNAs, with some of the genes overlapping each other. The gene organization is the same as that for another echinoderm, sea urchin, except for the inversion of a 4.6-kb segment that contains genes for two proteins, 13 tRNAs and the 16S rRNA. Judging from the organization of the protein coding genes, mammalian mtDNAs resemble the sea urchin mtDNA more than that of the starfish. The region around the 3' end of the 12S rRNA gene of the starfish shows a high similarity with those for vertebrates. This region encodes a possible stem and loop structure; similar potential structures occur in this region of vertebrate mtDNAs and also in nonmitochondrial small subunit rRNA. A similar stem and loop structure is also found at the 3' end of the 16S rRNA genes in A. pectinifera, in another starfish Pisaster ochraceus, in vertebrates and in Drosophila, but not in sea urchins. The full sequence data confirm the presumption that AGA/AGG, AUA and AAA codons, respectively, code for serine, isoleucine, and asparagine in the starfish mitochondria, and that AGA/AGG codons are read by tRNA(GCU)(Ser), which possesses a truncated dihydrouridine arm, that was previously suggested from a partial mtDNA sequence. The structural characteristics of tRNAs and possible mechanisms for the change in the mitochondrial genetic code are also discussed.

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Selected References

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