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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 April; 13(4): 2309–2314.
PMCID: PMC359551

Linear mitochondrial DNAs of yeasts: frequency of occurrence and general features.


In most yeast species, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been reported to be a circular molecule. However, two cases of linear mtDNA with specific termini have previously been described. We examined the frequency of occurrence of linear forms of mtDNA among yeasts by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Among the 58 species from the genera Pichia and Williopsis that we examined, linear mtDNA was found with unexpectedly high frequency. Thirteen species contained a linear mtDNA, as confirmed by restriction mapping, and labeling, and electron microscopy. The mtDNAs from Pichia pijperi, Williopsis mrakii, and P. jadinii were studied in detail. In each case, the left and right terminal fragments shared homologous sequences. Between the terminal repeats, the order of mitochondrial genes was the same in all of the linear mtDNAs examined, despite a large variation of the genome size. This constancy of gene order is in contrast with the great variation of gene arrangement in circular mitochondrial genomes of yeasts. The coding sequences determined on several genes were highly homologous to those of the circular mtDNAs, suggesting that these two forms of mtDNA are not of distant origins.

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Selected References

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