RNA-mediated transfer of the gene coxII from the mitochondrion to the nucleus during flowering plant evolution

Cell. 1991 Aug 9;66(3):473-81. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(81)90011-8.


The gene coxII, normally present in the mitochondrion, was functionally transferred to the nucleus during flowering plant evolution. coxII transfer is estimated to have occurred between 60 and 200 million years ago, whereas loss of coxII from the mitochondrion occurred much more recently, being restricted to a single genus of legumes. Most legumes have coxII in both the nucleus and the mitochondrion; however, no evidence is found for simultaneous coxII expression in both compartments. The nuclear coxII sequence more closely resembles edited mitochondrial coxII transcripts than the genes encoding these RNAs. Hence, gene transfer appears to have involved reverse transcription of an edited RNA intermediate. The nuclear gene contains an intron at the junction of the transit peptide sequence and the mature protein-coding sequence; exon shuffling may have played a role in assembling a functional coxII gene in the nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics*
  • Fabaceae / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • RNA / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Electron Transport Complex IV