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Nucleic Acids Res. 1985 Jun 11; 13(11): 4171–4190.
PMCID: PMC341304

Further characterization of the extremely small mitochondrial ribosomal RNAs from trypanosomes: a detailed comparison of the 9S and 12S RNAs from Crithidia fasciculata and Trypanosoma brucei with rRNAs from other organisms.


We have determined the nucleotide sequence of a maxi-circle segment from the insect trypanosome Crithidia fasciculata mitochondrial DNA, on which the genes for the major maxicircle transcripts of 9S and 12S are localized. The 5'-terminal sequences of these RNAs were determined by wandering spot analysis. The map coordinates of the 9S and 12S RNAs from Trypanosoma brucei were adjusted with respect to a previous report with the aid of primer extension analysis with reverse transcriptase. This approach allowed us to align the corresponding genes from both organisms which show an overall sequence homology of 77%. The 9S and 12S RNA genes from the two trypanosome species contain sequences, closely related to some of the regions that are universally conserved among ribosomal RNAs from members of the three primary kingdoms and their organelles, even though the overall level of sequence homology is extremely low. These universal sequences occur at positions in the 9S and 12S RNAs that are analogous to those occupied by their counterparts in authentic ribosomal RNAs. The characteristic secondary structure elements flanking these universal sequences in genuine ribosomal RNAs can also be formed in the trypanosomal 9S and 12S RNAs. These results provide unequivocal evidence for a ribosomal function of the 9S and 12S RNAs of trypanosomal mitochondria, notwithstanding their extremely small size (estimated to be 612 and 1141 nucleotides in C. fasciculata, 611 and 1150 nucleotides in T. brucei) and their unusual base composition (83% A+U).

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