Abundant nuclear copies of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs) in the Aedes aegypti genome

William C. Black IV
Scott A. Bernhardt, Utah State University


A portion of the Aedes aegypti mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 gene (ND4) was amplified using PCR with a 42 °C annealing temperature. Amplified fragments from individual mosquitoes were similar to ND4 but contained multiple segregating sites. We suspected that nuclear copies of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs) exist in the Ae. aegypti genome. A BlastN search in VectorBase with the entire Ae. aegypti mitochondrial genome identified 233 NUMTs comprising 110 178 bp in 145 supercontigs. At a density of 0.080 bp/kb, this represents the second highest density of NUMTs in an insect genome and the highest in Diptera. Analyses of flanking sequences suggested that Ae. aegypti NUMTs arise through mtDNA leakage from damaged mitochondria followed by breakage and nonhomologous recombination, rather than through duplicative processes such as transposition or molecular drive.