Mitochondria are ubiquitous organelles in all eukaryotes that are essential for a range of cellular processes and cellular signaling. Nearly all mitochondria have their own DNA or mitochondrial (mt) genome, which varies considerably in size, structure and organization. The phylum Apicomplexa includes a variety of unicellular eukaryotes, some of which are parasites of clinical or economic importance. Recent studies have demonstrated that apicomplexan mt genomes, which include the smallest 6 kb genome of the malaria parasites, exhibit remarkably diverse structures. Apicomplexan parasites are interesting model organisms in order to understand the evolution of mt genomes. This review summarizes the structure of apicomplexan mt genomes and highlights the unique features and the evolution of the mt genome.
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