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EMBO J. 1996 Feb 1;15(3):684-93.

Recombination associated with replication of malarial mitochondrial DNA.

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The National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK.


Mitochondrial DNA of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum comprises approximately 20 copies per cell of a 6 kb genome, arranged mainly as polydisperse linear concatemers. In synchronous blood cultures, initiation of mtDNA replication coincides with the start of the 4-5 doublings in nuclear DNA that mark the reproductive phase of the erythrocytic cycle. We show that mtDNA replication coincides with a recombination process reminiscent of the replication mechanism used by certain bacteriophages and plasmids. The few circular forms of mtDNA which are also present do not replicate by a theta mechanism, but are themselves the product of recombination, and we propose they undergo rolling circle activity to generate the linear concatemers.

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