Insights into the transcriptional and translational mechanisms of linear organellar chromosomes in the box jellyfish Alatina alata (Cnidaria: Medusozoa: Cubozoa) Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: In most animals, the mitochondrial genome is characterized by its small size, organization into a single circular molecule, and a relative conservation of the number of encoded genes. In box jellyfish (Cubozoa, Cnidaria), the mitochondrial genome is organized into 8 linear mito-chromosomes harboring between one and 4 genes each, including 2 extra protein-coding genes: mt-polB and orf314. Such an organization challenges the traditional view of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) expression in animals. In this study, we investigate the pattern of mitochondrial gene expression in the box jellyfish Alatina alata, as well as several key nuclear-encoded molecular pathways involved in the processing of mitochondrial gene transcription. RESULTS: Read coverage of DNA-seq data is relatively uniform for all 8 mito-chromosomes, suggesting that each mito-chromosome is present in equimolar proportion in the mitochondrion. Comparison of DNA and RNA-seq based assemblies indicates that mito-chromosomes are transcribed into individual transcripts in which the beginning and ending are highly conserved. Expression levels for mt-polB and orf314 are similar to those of other mitochondrial-encoded genes, which provides further evidence for them having functional roles in the mitochondrion. Survey of the transcriptome suggests recognition of the mitochondrial tRNA-Met by the cytoplasmic aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase counterpart and C-to-U editing of the cytoplasmic tRNA-Trp after import into the mitochondrion. Moreover, several mitochondrial ribosomal proteins appear to be lost. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the first survey of mitochondrial gene expression of the linear multi-chromosomal mtDNA in box jellyfish (Cubozoa). Future exploration of small RNAs and the proteome of the mitochondrion will test the hypotheses presented herein.

publication date

  • 2016