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Gene. 2006 Feb 1;366(2):292-302. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Evolutionary analysis of a large mtDNA translocation (numt) into the nuclear genome of the Panthera genus species.

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Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center (NCI-FCRDC), Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA.


Translocation of cymtDNA into the nuclear genome, also referred to as numt, has been reported in many species, including several closely related to the domestic cat (Felis catus). We describe the recent transposition of 12,536 bp of the 17 kb mitochondrial genome into the nucleus of the common ancestor of the five Panthera genus species: tiger, P. tigris; snow leopard, P. uncia; jaguar, P. onca; leopard, P. pardus; and lion, P. leo. This nuclear integration, representing 74% of the mitochondrial genome, is one of the largest to be reported in eukaryotes. The Panthera genus numt differs from the numt previously described in the Felis genus in: (1) chromosomal location (F2-telomeric region vs. D2-centromeric region), (2) gene make up (from the ND5 to the ATP8 vs. from the CR to the COII), (3) size (12.5 vs. 7.9 kb), and (4) structure (single monomer vs. tandemly repeated in Felis). These distinctions indicate that the origin of this large numt fragment in the nuclear genome of the Panthera species is an independent insertion from that of the domestic cat lineage, which has been further supported by phylogenetic analyses. The tiger cymtDNA shared around 90% sequence identity with the homologous numt sequence, suggesting an origin for the Panthera numt at around 3.5 million years ago, prior to the radiation of the five extant Panthera species.

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