An ancient group I intron shared by eubacteria and chloroplasts

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Science  14 Dec 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4987, pp. 1570-1573
DOI: 10.1126/science.2125748


Introns have been found in the genomes of all major groups of organisms except eubacteria. The presence of introns in chloroplasts and mitochondria, both of which are of eubacterial origin, has been interpreted as evidence either for the recent acquisition of introns by organelles or for the loss of introns from their eubacterial progenitors. The gene for the leucine transfer RNA with a UAA anticodon [tRNALeu (UAA)] from five diverse cyanobacteria and several major groups of chloroplasts contains a single group I intron. The intron is conserved in secondary structure and primary sequence, and occupies the same position, within the UAA anticodon. The homology of the intron across chloroplasts and cyanobacteria implies that it was present in their common ancestor and that it has been maintained in their genomes for at least 1 billion years.

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