Indexed on: 24 Mar '05Published on: 24 Mar '05Published in: Journal of Molecular Evolution
Comparative analysis of the ribosomal protein S3 gene (rps3) in the mitochondrial genome of Cycas with newly sequenced counterparts from Magnolia and Helianthus and available sequences from higher plants revealed that the positional clustering with the genes for ribosomal protein S19 (rps19) and L16 (rpl16) is preserved in gymnosperms. However, in contrast to the other land plant species, the rps3 gene in Cycas mitochondria is unique in possessing a second intron: rps3i2. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis of the transcripts generated from the rps19-rps3-rpl16 cluster in Cycas mitochondria demonstrated that the genes are cotranscribed and extensively modified by RNA editing and that both introns are efficiently spliced. Despite remarkable size heterogeneity, the Cycas rps3i1 can be shown to be homologous to the group IIA introns present within the rps3 gene of algae and land plants, including Magnolia and Helianthus. Conversely, sequences similar to the rps3i2 have not been reported previously. On the basis of conserved primary and secondary structure the second intervening sequence interrupting the Cycas rps3 gene has been classified as a group II intron. The close relationship of the rps3i2 to a group of different plant mitochondrial introns is intriguing and suggestive of a mitochondrial derivation for this novel intervening sequence. Interestingly, the rps3i2 appears to be conserved at the same gene location in other gymnosperms. Furthermore, the pattern of the rps3i2 distribution among algae and land plants provides evidence for the evolutionary acquisition of this novel intron in gymnosperms via intragenomic transposition or retrotransposition.