A hominoid-specific nuclear insertion of the mitochondrial D-loop: implications for reconstructing ancestral mitochondrial sequences.

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A nuclear integration of a mitochondrial control region sequence on human chromosome 9 has been isolated. PCR analyses with primers specific for the respective insertion-flanking nuclear regions showed that the insertion took place on the lineage leading to Hominoidea (gibbon, orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and human) after the Old World monkey-Hominoidea split. The sequences of the control region integrations were determined for humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and siamangs. These sequences were then used to construct phylogenetic trees with different methods, relating them with several hominoid, Old Work monkey, and New World monkey mitochondrial control region sequences. Applying maximum-likelihood, neighbor-joining, and parsimony algorithms, the insertion clade was attached to the branch leading to the hominoid mitochondrial sequences as expected from the PCR-determined presence/absence of this integration. An unexpected long branch leading to the internal node that connects all insertion sequences was observed for the different phylogeny reconstruction procedures. This finding is not totally compatible with the lower evolutionary rate in the nucleus than in the mitochondrial compartment. We determined the unambiguous substitutions on the branch leading to the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of the mitochondrial inserts according to the parsimony criterium. We propose that they are unlikely to have been caused by damage of the transposing nucleic acid and that they are probably due to a change in the evolutionary mode after the transposition.

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