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Genomics. 2003 May;81(5):468-80.

Identification and characterization of over 100 mitochondrial ribosomal protein pseudogenes in the human genome.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, 266 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA.


The human (nuclear) genome encodes at least 79 mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), which are imported into the mitochondria. Using a comprehensive approach, we find 41 of these give rise to 120 pseudogenes in the genome. The majority of the MRP pseudogenes are of processed origin and can be aligned to match the entire coding region of the functional MRP mRNAs. One processed pseudogene was found to have originated from an alternatively spliced mRNA transcript. We also found two duplicated pseudogenes that are transcribed in the cell as confirmed by screening the human EST database. We observed a significant correlation between the number of processed pseudogenes and the gene CDS length (R = -0.40; p < 0.001), i.e., the relatively shorter genes tend to have more processed pseudogenes. There is also a weaker correlation between the number of processed pseudogenes and the gene CDS GC content. Our study provides a catalogue of human MRP pseudogenes, which will be useful in the study of functional MRP genes. It also provides a molecular record of the evolution of these genes. More details are available at

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