Nuclear inserted copies of mitochondrial origin ( numts ) vary widely among eukaryotes, with human and plant genomes harboring the largest repertoires. Numts were previously thought to be absent from fish species, but the recent release of three fish nuclear genome sequences provides the resource to obtain a more comprehensive insight into the extent of mtDNA transfer in fishes. From the sequence analyses of the genomes of Fugu rubripes, Tetraodon nigroviridis, and Danio rerio, we have identified 2, 5, and 10 recent numt integrations, respectively, which integrated into those genomes less than 0.6 million years (Myr) ago. Such results contradict the hypothesis of absence or rarity of numts in fishes, as (i) the ratio of numts to the total size of the nuclear genome in T. nigroviridis was superior to the ratio observed in several higher vertebrate species (e.g., chicken, mouse, and rat), and only surpassed by humans, and (ii) the mtDNA coverage transferred to the nuclear genome of D. rerio is exceeded only by human and mouse, within the whole range of eukaryotic genomes surveyed for numts . Additionally, 335, 336, and 471 old numts (>12.5 Myr) were detected in F. rubripes, T. nigroviridis, and D. rerio, respectively. Surprisingly, old numts are inserted preferentially into known or predicted genes, as inferred for recent numts in human. However, because in fish genomes such integrations are old, they are likely to represent evolutionary successes and they may be considered a potential important evolutionary mechanism for the enhancement of genomic coding regions.
Genomics – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2005
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