In eukaryotes, horizontal gene transfer is a rare event. We have shown that the mitochondrial genome of a lower fungus, Allomyces macrogynus, has an extra DNA segment not present in a close relative, Allomyces arbusculus. This insert consists of the C terminus of a foreign gene encoding a subunit of the ATP synthetase complex (atp6) plus an open reading frame encoding an endonuclease. The inserted atp6 portion is fused in phase to the resident gene, resulting in expression of a hybrid atp6 gene and the displacement of the original C- terminal atp6 region. We present evidence that this insertion may have been acquired by interspecific transfer and we discuss the possible role of the endonuclease in this process.
For more information: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91: 11807-11810 (1994)