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Free Content A horizontally transferred tRNA

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Of the two tRNACys(GCA) genes, trnC1‐GCA and trnC2‐GCA, previously identified in mitochondrial genome of sugar beet, the former is a native gene and probably a pseudo‐copy, whereas the latter, of unknown origin, is transcribed into a tRNA [tRNACys2(GCA)]. In this study, the trnC2‐GCA sequence was mined from various public databases. To evaluate whether or not the trnC2‐GCA sequence is located in the mitochondrial genome, the relative copy number of its sequence to nuclear gene was assessed in a number of angiosperm species, using a quantitative real‐time PCR assay. The trnC2‐GCA sequence was found to exist sporadically in the mitochondrial genomes of a wide range of angiosperms. The mitochondrial tRNACys2(GCA) species from sugar beet (Beta vulgaris), spinach (Spinacea oleracea) and cucumber (Cucumis sativus) were found to be aminoacylated, indicating that they may participate in translation. We also identified a sugar beet nuclear gene that encodes cysteinyl‐tRNA synthetase, which is dual‐targeted to mitochondria and plastids, and may aminoacylate tRNACys2(GCA). What is of particular interest is that trnC1‐GCA and trnC2‐GCA co‐exist in the mitochondrial genomes of eight diverse angiosperms, including spinach, and that the spinach tRNACys1(GCA) is also aminoacylated. Taken together, our observations lead us to surmise that trnC2‐GCA may have been horizontally transferred to a common ancestor of eudicots, followed by co‐existence and dual expression of trnC1‐GCA and trnC2‐GCA in mitochondria with occasional loss or inactivation of either trnC‐GCA gene during evolution.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Research Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, 060-8589 N-9, W-9, Kita-ku Sapporo, Japan

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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