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Trends Genet. 2006 Feb;22(2):90-5. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Bacteriophage origins of mitochondrial replication and transcription proteins.

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Program in Evolutionary Biology, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, 5850 College Street, Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 1X5.


Mounting evidence suggests that key components of the mitochondrial transcription and replication apparatus are derived from the T-odd lineage of bacteriophage rather than from an alpha-Proteobacterium, as the endosymbiont hypothesis would predict. We propose that several mitochondrial replication genes were acquired together from an ancestor of T-odd phage early in the evolution of the eukaryotic cell, at the time of the mitochondrial endosymbiosis. We further propose that at a later stage the single-subunit RNA polymerase, originally acquired for mitochondrial DNA replication, was co-opted to serve in mitochondrial transcription.

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