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J Mol Biol. 2000 Mar 24;297(2):365-80.

Complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome of Tetrahymena pyriformis and comparison with Paramecium aurelia mitochondrial DNA.

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  • 1Program in Evolutionary Biology, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Département de Biochimie, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3J7, Canada.


We report the complete nucleotide sequence of the Tetrahymena pyriformis mitochondrial genome and a comparison of its gene content and organization with that of Paramecium aurelia mtDNA. T. pyriformis mtDNA is a linear molecule of 47,172 bp (78.7 % A+T) excluding telomeric sequences (identical tandem repeats of 31 bp at each end of the genome). In addition to genes encoding the previously described bipartite small and large subunit rRNAs, the T. pyriformis mitochondrial genome contains 21 protein-coding genes that are clearly homologous to genes of defined function in other mtDNAs, including one (yejR) that specifies a component of a cytochrome c biogenesis pathway. As well, T. pyriformis mtDNA contains 22 open reading frames of unknown function larger than 60 codons, potentially specifying proteins ranging in size from 74 to 1386 amino acid residues. A total of 13 of these open reading frames ("ciliate-specific") are found in P. aurelia mtDNA, whereas the remaining nine appear to be unique to T. pyriformis; however, of the latter, five are positionally equivalent and of similar size in the two ciliate mitochondrial genomes, suggesting they may also be homologous, even though this is not evident from sequence comparisons. Only eight tRNA genes encoding seven distinct tRNAs are found in T. pyriformis mtDNA, formally confirming a long-standing proposal that most T. pyriformis mitochondrial tRNAs are nucleus-encoded species imported from the cytosol. Atypical features of mitochondrial gene organization and expression in T. pyriformis mtDNA include split and rearranged large subunit rRNA genes, as well as a split nad1 gene (encoding subunit 1 of NADH dehydrogenase of respiratory complex I) whose two segments are located on and transcribed from opposite strands, as is also the case in P. aurelia. Gene content and arrangement are very similar in T. pyriformis and P. aurelia mtDNAs, the two differing by a limited number of duplication, inversion and rearrangement events. Phylogenetic analyses using concatenated sequences of several mtDNA-encoded proteins provide high bootstrap support for the monophyly of alveolates (ciliates, dinoflagellates and apicomplexans) and slime molds.

Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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