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J Biol Chem. 1997 Sep 5;272(36):22583-90.

Biochemical and molecular consequences of massive mitochondrial gene loss in different tissues of a mutant strain of Drosophila subobscura.

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  • 1Equipe Génome Mitochondrial, UMR CNRS 6547, Université Blaise-Pascal, 63177 Aubière Cédex, France.


In the studied mutant strain of Drosophila subobscura, 78% of the mitochondrial genomes lost >30% of the coding region by deletion. The mutations was genetically stable. Despite this massive loss of mitochondrial genes, the mutant did not seem to be affected. Distribution of the two genome types, cell levels of mitochondrial DNA, steady-state concentrations of the mitochondrial gene transcripts, mitochondrial enzymatic activities, and ATP synthesis capacities were measured in the head, thorax, and abdomen fractions of the mutant strain in comparison with a wild type strain. Results indicate that the deleted genomes are detected in all fractions but to a lesser extent in the male and female abdomen. In all fractions, there is a 50% increase in cellular mitochondrial DNA content. Although there is a decrease in steady-state concentrations of mitochondrial transcripts of genes affected by deletion, this is smaller than expected. The variations in mitochondrial biochemical activities in the different fractions of the wild strain are upheld in the mutant strain. Activity of complex I (involved in mutation) nevertheless shows a decrease in all fractions; activity of complex III (likewise involved) shows little or no change; finally, mitochondrial ATP synthesis capacity is identical to that observed in the wild strain. This latter finding possibly accounts for the lack of phenotype. This mutant is a good model for studying mitochondrial genome alterations and the role of the nuclear genome in these phenomena.

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