Recombination associated with replication of malarial mitochondrial DNA

EMBO J. 1996 Feb 1;15(3):684-93.


Mitochondrial DNA of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum comprises approximately 20 copies per cell of a 6 kb genome, arranged mainly as polydisperse linear concatemers. In synchronous blood cultures, initiation of mtDNA replication coincides with the start of the 4-5 doublings in nuclear DNA that mark the reproductive phase of the erythrocytic cycle. We show that mtDNA replication coincides with a recombination process reminiscent of the replication mechanism used by certain bacteriophages and plasmids. The few circular forms of mtDNA which are also present do not replicate by a theta mechanism, but are themselves the product of recombination, and we propose they undergo rolling circle activity to generate the linear concatemers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Circular / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Circular / genetics
  • DNA, Circular / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Protozoan / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics*
  • DNA, Protozoan / isolation & purification
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Multigene Family
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Recombination, Genetic*


  • DNA, Circular
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA, Protozoan