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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Nov 15;28(22):4479-87.

Extragenomic double-stranded DNA circles in yeast with linear mitochondrial genomes: potential involvement in telomere maintenance.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-27514, USA.


Although the typical mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is portrayed as a circular molecule, a large number of organisms contain linear mitochondrial genomes classified by their telomere structure. The class of mitochondrial telomeres identified in three yeast species, Candida parapsilosis, Pichia philodendra and Candida salmanticensis, is characterized by inverted terminal repeats each consisting of several tandemly repeating units and a 5' single-stranded extension. The molecular mechanisms of the origin, replication and maintenance of this type of mitochondrial telomere remain unknown. While studying the replication of linear mtDNA of C.parapsilosis by 2-D gel electrophoresis distinct DNA fragments composed solely of mitochondrial telomeric sequences were detected and their properties were suggestive of a circular conformation. Electron microscopic analysis of these DNAs revealed the presence of highly supertwisted circular molecules which could be relaxed by DNase I. The minicircles fell into distinct categories based on length, corresponding to n x 0.75 kb (n = 1-7). Similar results were obtained with two other yeast species (P.philodendra and C. salmanticensis) which possess analogous telomeric structure.

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