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Genetics. Nov 1998; 150(3): 1115–1123.
PMCID: PMC1460392

The mitochondrial genome of the hemichordate Balanoglossus carnosus and the evolution of deuterostome mitochondria.


The complete nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial genome of the hemichordate Balanoglossus carnosus (acorn worm) was determined. The arrangement of the genes encoding 13 protein, 22 tRNA, and 2 rRNA genes is essentially the same as in vertebrates, indicating that the vertebrate and hemichordate mitochondrial gene arrangement is close to that of their common ancestor, and, thus, that it has been conserved for more than 600 million years, whereas that of echinoderms has been rearranged extensively. The genetic code of hemichordate mitochondria is similar to that of echinoderms in that ATA encodes isoleucine and AGA serine, whereas the codons AAA and AGG, whose amino acid assignments also differ between echinoderms and vertebrates, are absent from the B. carnosus mitochondrial genome. There are three noncoding regions of length 277, 41, and 32 bp: the larger one is likely to be equivalent to the control region of other deuterostomes, while the two others may contain transcriptional promoters for genes encoded on the minor coding strand. Phylogenetic trees estimated from the inferred protein sequences indicate that hemichordates are a sister group of echinoderms.

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