Journal Article

Evidence of a Paucity of Genes That Interact with the Mitochondrion on the X in Mammals

Devin M. Drown, Kevin M. Preuss and Michael J. Wade

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 4, issue 8, pages 763-768
Published in print January 2012 |
Published online July 2012 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics


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Mitochondria are essential organelles whose replication, development, and physiology are dependent upon coordinated gene interactions with both the mitochondrial and the nuclear genomes. The evolution of coadapted (CA) nuclear–mitochondrial gene combinations would be facilitated if such nuclear genes were located on the X-chromosome instead of on the autosomes because of the increased probability of cotransmission. Here, we test the prediction of the CA hypothesis by investigating the chromosomal distribution of nuclear genes that interact with mitochondria. Using the online genome database BIOMART, we compared the density of genes that have a mitochondrion cellular component annotation across chromosomes in 16 vertebrates. We find a strong and highly significant genomic pattern against the CA hypothesis: nuclear genes interacting with the mitochondrion are significantly underrepresented on the X-chromosome in mammals but not in birds. We interpret our findings in terms of sexual conflict as a mechanism that may generate the observed pattern. Our finding extends single-gene theory for the evolution of sexually antagonistic genes to nuclear–mitochondrial gene combinations.

Keywords: genomic conflict; gene transfer; sex chromosome; coadapted gene complex

Journal Article.  3769 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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