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Mol Biol Evol. 1997 Jan;14(1):91-104.

Two novel gene orders and the role of light-strand replication in rearrangement of the vertebrate mitochondrial genome.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


Two novel mitochondrial gene arrangements are identified in an agamid lizard and a ranid frog. Statistical tests incorporating phylogeny indicate a link between novel vertebrate mitochondrial gene orders and movement of the origin of light-strand replication. A mechanism involving errors in light-strand replication and tandem duplication of genes is proposed for rearrangement of vertebrate mitochondrial genes. A second mechanism involving small direct repeats also is identified. These mechanisms implicate gene order as a reliable phylogenetic character. Shifts in gene order define major lineages without evidence of parallelism or reversal. The loss of the origin of light-strand replication from its typical vertebrate position evolves in parallel and, therefore, is a less reliable phylogenetic character. Gene junctions also evolve in parallel. Sequencing across multigenic regions, in particular transfer RNA genes, should be a major focus of future systematic studies to locate novel gene orders and to provide a better understanding of the evolution of the vertebrate mitochondrial genome.

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