Comparative analysis reveals the expansion of mitochondrial DNA control region containing unusually high G-C tandem repeat arrays in Nasonia vitripennis

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International Journal of Biological Macromolecules



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GC-content, Inversion, Mitochondrial genome evolution, Muscidifurax, Nasonia, Tandem repeats


© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Insect mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) ranges from 14 to 19 kbp, and the size difference is attributed to the AT-rich control region. Jewel wasps have a parasitoid lifestyle, which may affect mitochondria function and evolution. We sequenced, assembled, and annotated mitochondrial genomes in Nasonia and outgroup species. Gene composition and order are conserved within Nasonia, but they differ from other parasitoids by two large inversion events that were not reported before. We observed a much higher substitution rate relative to the nuclear genome and mitochondrial introgression between N. giraulti and N. oneida, which is consistent with previous studies. Most strikingly, N. vitripennis mtDNA has an extremely long control region (7665 bp), containing twenty-nine 217 bp tandem repeats and can fold into a super-cruciform structure. In contrast to tandem repeats commonly found in other mitochondria, these high-copy repeats are highly conserved (98.7% sequence identity), much longer in length (approximately 8 Kb), extremely GC-rich (50.7%), and CpG-rich (percent CpG 19.4% vs. 1.1% in coding region), resulting in a 23 kbp mtDNA beyond the typical size range in insects. These N. vitripennis-specific mitochondrial repeats are not related to any known sequences in insect mitochondria. Their evolutionary origin and functional consequences warrant further investigations.

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