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Mol Biol Evol. 2011 Aug;28(8):2269-74. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msr041. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Discovery of cyanophage genomes which contain mitochondrial DNA polymerase.

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Reproductive Health, Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University Hospital, Coventry, UK.


DNA polymerase γ is a family A DNA polymerase responsible for the replication of mitochondrial DNA in eukaryotes. The origins of DNA polymerase γ have remained elusive because it is not present in any known bacterium, though it has been hypothesized that mitochondria may have inherited the enzyme by phage-mediated nonorthologous displacement. Here, we present an analysis of two full-length homologues of this gene, which were found in the genomes of two bacteriophages, which infect the chlorophyll-d containing cyanobacterium Acaryochloris marina. Phylogenetic analyses of these phage DNA polymerase γ proteins show that they branch deeply within the DNA polymerase γ clade and therefore share a common origin with their eukaryotic homologues. We also found homologues of these phage polymerases in the environmental Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA) database, which fell in the same clade. An analysis of the CAMERA assemblies containing the environmental homologues together with the filter fraction metadata indicated some of these assemblies may be of bacterial origin. We also show that the phage-encoded DNA polymerase γ is highly transcribed as the phage genomes are replicated. These findings provide data that may assist in reconstructing the evolution of mitochondria.

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