tRNA punctuation model of RNA processing in human mitochondria

Nature. 1981 Apr 9;290(5806):470-4. doi: 10.1038/290470a0.


A 3'-end proximal segment of most of the putative mRNAs encoded in the heavy strand of HeLa cell mtDNA has been partially sequences and aligned with the DNA sequence. In all cases, the 3'-end nucleotide of the individual mRNA coding sequences has been found to be immediately contiguous to a tRNA gene or another mRNA coding sequence. These and previous results indicate that the heavy (H) strand sequences coding for the rRNA, poly(A)-containing RNA and tRNA species form a continuum extending over almost the entire length of this strand. We propose that the H strand is transcribed into a single polycistronic RNA molecule, which is processed later into mature species by precise endonucleolytic cleavages which occur, in most cases, immediately before and after a tRNA sequence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes
  • Genetic Linkage
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors / metabolism*
  • Poly A / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • mitochondrial messenger RNA
  • Poly A
  • RNA, Transfer