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Comparative Study
, 37 (2), 190-7

Generation of VNTRs and Heteroplasmy by Sequence Turnover in the Mitochondrial Control Region of Two Elephant Seal Species

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Comparative Study

Generation of VNTRs and Heteroplasmy by Sequence Turnover in the Mitochondrial Control Region of Two Elephant Seal Species

A R Hoelzel et al. J Mol Evol.

Abstract

We describe an unusual repetitive DNA region located in the 3' end of the light (L)-strand in the mitochondrial control region of two elephant seal species. The array of tandem repeats shows both VNTR (variable-number tandem repeat) and sequence variation and is absent from 12 compared mammalian species, except for the occurrence in the same location of a distinct repetitive region in rabbit mtDNA and a similar repeat in the harbor seal. The sequence composition and arrangement of the repeats differ considerably between the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) and the southern species (M. leonina) despite an estimated divergence time of 1 MY (based on an mtDNA-RNA gene and the nonrepetitive control region). Analysis of repeat sequence relationships within and between species indicate that divergence in sequence and structure of repeats has involved both slippage-like and unequal crossingover processes of turnover, generating very high levels of divergence and heteroplasmy.

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