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Mol Biol Evol. 1999 Mar;16(3):410-8.

Complete sequence, gene arrangement, and genetic code of mitochondrial DNA of the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae (Amphioxus)

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Department of Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.

Erratum in

  • Mol Biol Evol 1999 Jul;16(7):1010.


We have determined the 15,083-nucleotide (nt) sequence of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae (Chordata: Cephalochordata). As is typical in metazoans, the mtDNA encodes 13 protein, 2 rRNA, and 22 tRNA genes. The gene arrangement differs from the common vertebrate arrangement by only four tRNA gene positions. Three of these are unique to Branchiostoma, but the fourth is in a position that is primitive for chordates. It shares the genetic code variations found in vertebrate mtDNAs except that AGA = serine, a code variation found in many invertebrate phyla but not in vertebrates (the related codon AGG was not found). Branchiostoma mtDNA lacks a vertebrate-like control region; its largest noncoding region (129 nt) is unremarkable in sequence or base composition, and its location between ND5 and tRNAG differs from that usually found in vertebrates. It also lacks a potential hairpin DNA structure like those found in many (though not in all) vertebrates to serve as the second-strand (i.e., L-strand) origin of replication. Perhaps related to this, the sequence corresponding to the DHU arm of tRNAC cannot form a helical stem, a condition found in a few other vertebrate mtDNAs that also lack a canonical L-strand origin of replication. ATG and GTG codons appear to initiate translation in 11 and 2 of the protein-encoding genes, respectively. Protein genes end with complete (TAA or TAG) or incomplete (T or TA) stop codons; the latter are presumably converted to TAA by post-transcriptional polyadenylation.

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