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Sequence variation in the mitochondrial DNA control region of wild African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)




Five hundred and twenty-five bp of mitochondrial control region were sequenced and analysed for 20 Acinonyx jubatus and one Felis catus. These sequences were compared with published sequences from another domestic cat, 20 ocelots (Leopardus pardalus) and 11 margays (Leopardus weidii). The intraspecific population divergence in cheetahs was found to be less than in the other cats. However variation was present and distinct groups of cheetahs were discernible. The 80 bp RS2 repetitive sequence motif previously described in other felids was found in four copies in cheetah. The repeat units probably have the ability to form secondary structure and may have some function in the regulation of control region replication. The two central repeat units in cheetah show homogenization that may have arisen by convergent evolution.