Evolution of cox2 introns in angiosperm mitochondria and efficient splicing of an elongated cox2i691 intron

Alejandro A. Edera, Katharine A. Howell, Paul G. Nevill, Ian Small, M. Virginia Sanchez-Puerta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In angiosperms, the mitochondrial cox2 gene harbors up to two introns, commonly referred to as cox2i373 and cox2i691. We studied the cox2 from 222 fully-sequenced mitogenomes from 30 angiosperm orders and analyzed the evolution of their introns. Unlike cox2i373, cox2i691 shows a distribution among plants that is shaped by frequent intron loss events driven by localized retroprocessing. In addition, cox2i691 exhibits sporadic elongations, frequently in domain IV of introns. Such elongations are poorly related to repeat content and two of them showed the presence of LINE transposons, suggesting that increasing intron size is very likely due to nuclear intracelular DNA transfer followed by incorporation into the mitochondrial DNA. Surprisingly, we found that cox2i691 is erroneously annotated as absent in 30 mitogenomes deposited in public databases. Although each of the cox2 introns is ∼1.5 kb in length, a cox2i691 of 4.2 kb has been reported in Acacia ligulata (Fabaceae). It is still unclear whether its unusual length is due to a trans-splicing arrangement or the loss of functionality of the interrupted cox2. Through analyzing short-read RNA sequencing of Acacia with a multi-step computational strategy, we found that the Acacia cox2 is functional and its long intron is spliced in cis in a very efficient manner despite its length.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147393
Number of pages11
Early online date24 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


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