Mitochondrial (mt) DNA of higher plants is unique in its large size and complexity. We report here a hitherto unknownfeature, the presence of large quantities of single-stranded (ss) DNA. About 2.0-8.5% of the chromosomal mtDNA from a suspension culture (depending on the growth stage) and 6.5% of the chromosomal mtDNA from whole plants of Chenopodium album were found to be in ss form by dot-blot hybridization after neutral transfer. Similar amounts of ss mtDNA were observed by binding of the single-strand binding (SSB) protein of Escherichia coli under the electron microscope. Significantly less ssDNA was found in plastids of C. album and in E. coli cells. We observed ss regions between 100 and 22 800 bases distributed in the mt genome spaced from 0.5-100 kb apart. After pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the well-bound fraction of mtDNA (found to consist of circular, sigma-shaped and rosette-like molecules), contained the major part of ssDNA as opposed to the migrating linear molecules. Digestion of mtDNA by ss-specific nucleases followed by PFGE mobilized all well-bound DNA and correspondingly increased the quantity of migrating linear DNA molecules. The implications of ssDNA for the structural organization on plant mt genomes are discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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