Mammalian mitochondrial D-loop region structural analysis: identification of new conserved sequences and their functional and evolutionary implications

Gene. 1997 Dec 31;205(1-2):125-40. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(97)00404-6.


This paper reports the first comprehensive analysis of Displacement loop (D-loop) region sequences from ten different mammalian orders. It represents a systematic evolutionary study at the molecular level on regulatory homologous regions in organisms belonging to a well defined class, mammalia, which radiated about 150 million years ago (Mya). We have aligned and analyzed 26 complete D-loop region sequences available in the literature and the fat dormouse sequence, recently determined in our laboratory. The novelty of our alignment consists of the extensive manual revision of the preliminary output obtained by computer program to optimize sequence similarity, particularly for the two peripheral domains displaying heterogeneity in length and the presence of repeated sequences. The multialignment is available at the WWW site: Our comparative study has allowed us to identify new conserved sequence blocks present in all the species under consideration and events of insertion/deletion which have important implications in both functional and evolutionary aspects. In particular we have detected two blocks, about 60 bp long, extended termination associated sequences (ETAS1 and ETAS2) conserved in all the organisms considered. Evaluation against experimental work suggests a possible functional role of ETAS1 and ETAS2 in the regulation of replication and transcription and targeted experimental approaches. The analyses on conserved sequence blocks (CSBs) clearly indicate that CSB1 is the only very essential element, common to all mammalian mt genomes, while CSB2 and CSB3 could be involved in different though related functions, probably species specific, and thus more linked to nuclear mitochondrial coevolutionary processes. Our hypothesis on the different functional implications of the conserved elements, CSBs and TASs, reported so far as main regulatory signals, would explain the different conservation of these elements in evolution. Moreover the intra-order comparison of the D-loop regions highlights peculiar features useful to define the evolutionary dynamics of this region in closely related species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/Y11137