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Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Jul;24(7):1492-505. Epub 2007 Apr 2.

Analysis of nuclear copies of mitochondrial sequences in honeybee (Apis mellifera) genome.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


At least 0.08% of the Apis mellifera nuclear genome contains sequences that originated from mitochondria. These nuclear copies of mitochondrial sequences (numts) are scattered all over the honeybee chromosomes and have originated by multiple independent insertions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as evident by phylogenetic analysis. Apart from original insertions, moderate duplications of numts also contributed to the present pattern and distribution of mitochondrial sequences in honeybee chromosomes. Assimilation of mitochondrial genes in the nuclear genome is mediated by extensive fragmentations of the original inserts. Replication slippage seems to be a major mechanism by which small sequences are inserted or deleted from mtDNA destined to nucleus. Most of the honeybee numts (84%) are located in the nongenic regions. The majority (94%) of the numts that are located in predicted nuclear genes have originated from mitochondrial genes coding for cytochrome oxidase and NADH dehydrogenase subunits. On the other hand, the mitochondrial rRNA or tRNA gene sequences are predominantly (88%) located in nongenic regions of the genome. Evidences also support for exertion of purifying selection on numts located in specific genes. Comparative analysis of numts of European, African, and Africanized honeybees suggests that numt evolution in A. mellifera is probably not demarked by speciation time frame but may be a continuous and dynamic process.

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