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Mol Biol Evol. 2002 Feb;19(2):163-9.

Complete mtDNA sequences of two millipedes suggest a new model for mitochondrial gene rearrangements: duplication and nonrandom loss.

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


We determined the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences of the millipedes Narceus annularus and Thyropygus sp. (Arthropoda: Diplopoda) and identified, in both genomes, all 37 genes typical for metazoan mtDNA. The arrangement of these genes is identical in the two millipedes, but differs from others found in arthropod mtDNAs in the location of at least four genes or gene blocks. This novel gene arrangement is unusual for animal mtDNA in that genes with identical transcriptional polarities are clustered in the genome, and the two clusters are separated by two noncoding regions. The only exception to this pattern is the gene for cysteine tRNA, which is located in the part of the genome that otherwise contains all genes with the opposite transcriptional polarity. We suggest that a mechanism involving complete mtDNA duplication followed by the loss of genes, predetermined by their transcriptional polarity and location in the genome, could generate this gene arrangement from the one ancestral for arthropods. The proposed mechanism has important implications for phylogenetic inferences that are drawn on the basis of gene arrangement comparisons.

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