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Nucleic Acids Res. Jun 1, 1999; 27(11): 2416–2422.
PMCID: PMC148810

The fragmented mitochondrial ribosomal RNAs of Plasmodium falciparum have short A tails.


The mitochondrial genome of Plasmodium falciparum encodes highly fragmented rRNAs. Twenty small RNAs which are putative rRNA fragments have been found and 15 of them have been identified as corresponding to specific regions of rRNA sequence. To investigate the possible interactions between the fragmented rRNAs in the ribosome, we have mapped the ends of many of the small transcripts using primer extension and RNase protection analysis. Results obtained from these studies revealed that some of the rRNA transcripts were longer than the sequences which encode them. To investigate these size discrepancies, we performed 3' RACE PCR analysis and RNase H mapping. These analyses revealed non-encoded oligo(A) tails on some but not all of these small rRNAs. The approximate length of the oligo(A) tail appears to be transcript-specific, with some rRNAs consistently showing longer oligo(A) tails than others. The oligoadenylation of the rRNAs may provide a buffer zone against 3' exonucleolytic attack, thereby preserving the encoded sequences necessary for secondary structure interactions in the ribosome.

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