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Curr Genet. 1998 May;33(5):330-9.

Developmental changes in heteroplasmy level and mitochondrial gene expression in a Drosophila subobscura mitochondrial deletion mutant.

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  • 1Equipe Génome mitochondrial, UMR-CNRS 6547, Université Blaise Pascal, F-63 177 Aubiere-cedex, France.


Eighty percent of DNA molecules are deleted in the mitochondrial population of an adult mutant strain of D. subobscura. Both intact and deleted genomes are autonomous monomers. The heteroplasmy level, which is lower in germ tissue, increases from the oocytes (60%) to the third larval instar (83%), and is then maintained throughout the life of the fly. The mtDNA/nuclear DNA ratio is on average two-times greater in the heteroplasmic strain than in the wild-type strain, irrespective of the stage, but the cellular content of mitochondria is elevated only in the embryos and pupae of the mutant strain. The steady state concentrations (SSCs) of the transcripts affected by the deletion are greatly reduced at the larval and adult stages, and less so at the pupal stage of the mutant strain compared with the wild-type. The SSCs of these transcripts are identical in the two strains at the embryonic stage. The fusion transcript, indicating that the deleted genome is expressed, was detected at all stages. The mechanisms involved in the changes in the heteroplasmy level during the course of development and in its maintenance from the third larval instar onwards are discussed.

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