Fu CJ, Sheikh S, Miao W, Andersson SG, Baldauf SL
Genome Biol Evol 6 (9) 2240-2257 [2014-08-21; online 2014-08-21]
Discoba (Excavata) is an ancient group of eukaryotes with great morphological and ecological diversity. Unlike the other major divisions of Discoba (Jakobida and Euglenozoa), little is known about the mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) of Heterolobosea. We have assembled a complete mtDNA genome from the aggregating heterolobosean amoeba, Acrasis kona, which consists of a single circular highly AT-rich (83.3%) molecule of 51.5 kb. Unexpectedly, A. kona mtDNA is missing roughly 40% of the protein-coding genes and nearly half of the transfer RNAs found in the only other sequenced heterolobosean mtDNAs, those of Naegleria spp. Instead, over a quarter of A. kona mtDNA consists of novel open reading frames. Eleven of the 16 protein-coding genes missing from A. kona mtDNA were identified in its nuclear DNA and polyA RNA, and phylogenetic analyses indicate that at least 10 of these 11 putative nuclear-encoded mitochondrial (NcMt) proteins arose by direct transfer from the mitochondrion. Acrasis kona mtDNA also employs C-to-U type RNA editing, and 12 homologs of DYW-type pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins implicated in plant organellar RNA editing are found in A. kona nuclear DNA. A mapping of mitochondrial gene content onto a consensus phylogeny reveals a sporadic pattern of relative stasis and rampant gene loss in Discoba. Rampant loss occurred independently in the unique common lineage leading to Heterolobosea + Tsukubamonadida and later in the unique lineage leading to Acrasis. Meanwhile, mtDNA gene content appears to be remarkably stable in the Acrasis sister lineage leading to Naegleria and in their distant relatives Jakobida.