Unusual genetic codes and a novel gene structure for tRNA(AGYSer) in starfish mitochondrial DNA

Gene. 1987;56(2-3):219-30. doi: 10.1016/0378-1119(87)90139-9.


The nucleotide sequence of a 3849-bp fragment of starfish mitochondrial genome was determined. The genes for NADH dehydrogenase subunits 3, 4, 5, and COIII, and three kinds of (tRNA(UCNSer), tRNA(His), and tRNA(AGYSer) were identified by comparing with the genes of other animal mitochondria so far elucidated. The gene arrangement of starfish mitochondrial genome was different from those of vertebrate and insect mitochondrial genomes. Comparison of the protein-encoding nucleotide sequences of starfish mitochondria with those of other animal mitochondria suggested a unique genetic code in starfish mitochondrial genome; both AGA and AGG (arginine in the universal code) code for serine, AUA (isoleucine in the universal code but methionine in most mitochondrial systems) for isoleucine, and AAA (lysine) for asparagine. It was also inferred that these AGA and AGG codons are decoded by serine tRNA(AGYSer) originally corresponding to AGC and AGU codons. This situation is similar to the case of Drosophila mitochondrial genome. Variations in the use of AGA and AGG codons were discussed on the basis of the evolution of animals and decoding capacity of various tRNA(AGYSer) species possessing different sizes of the dihydrouridine (D) arm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Codon / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Genetic Code*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acid-Specific / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer, Ser / genetics*
  • Species Specificity
  • Starfish / genetics*


  • Codon
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acid-Specific
  • RNA, Transfer, Ser

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M17619