The metazoan landscape of mitochondrial DNA gene order and content is shaped by selection and affects mitochondrial transcription

Noam Shtolz, Dan Mishmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) harbors essential genes in most metazoans, yet the regulatory impact of the multiple evolutionary mtDNA rearrangements has been overlooked. Here, by analyzing mtDNAs from ~8000 metazoans we found high gene content conservation (especially of protein and rRNA genes), and codon preferences for mtDNA-encoded tRNAs across most metazoans. In contrast, mtDNA gene order (MGO) was selectively constrained within but not between phyla, yet certain gene stretches (ATP8-ATP6, ND4-ND4L) were highly conserved across metazoans. Since certain metazoans with different MGOs diverge in mtDNA transcription, we hypothesized that evolutionary mtDNA rearrangements affected mtDNA transcriptional patterns. As a first step to test this hypothesis, we analyzed available RNA-seq data from 53 metazoans. Since polycistron mtDNA transcripts constitute a small fraction of the steady-state RNA, we enriched for polycistronic boundaries by calculating RNA-seq read densities across junctions between gene couples encoded either by the same strand (SSJ) or by different strands (DSJ). We found that organisms whose mtDNA is organized in alternating reverse-strand/forward-strand gene blocks (mostly arthropods), displayed significantly reduced DSJ read counts, in contrast to organisms whose mtDNA genes are preferentially encoded by one strand (all chordates). Our findings suggest that mtDNA rearrangements are selectively constrained and likely impact mtDNA regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number93
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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