Subcellular localization of minicircle DNA in the dinoflagellate Amphidinium massartii


  • Communicating Editor: I. Mine.


Peridinin-containing dinoflagellates have small circular DNA molecules called minicircle DNAs, each of which encodes one, or occasionally a few, plastid proteins or ribosomal RNA. Dinoflagellate minicircle DNA is composed of two parts: a gene-coding sequence and a non-coding sequence that consists of several variable and core regions. The core regions are identical among the minicircle DNAs with different genes within a species or strain. Because such structure is very different from those of well known plastid DNAs, many functional and evolutionary questions have been raised for the minicircle DNAs, and several studies that focus on answering those questions are underway. However, the localization of minicircle DNA is still controversial: several lines of indirect evidence have implied plastid localization, whereas the nuclear localization of minicircle DNA has also been suggested in a species. In order to understand the evolution and function of minicircle DNA, it is important to know its precise localization. In this study, we sequenced two typical minicircle DNAs, one encodes psbA and the other encodes 23S rRNA genes, from an Amphidinium massartii strain (TM16). To determine the subcellular localization of these minicircle DNAs, we performed DNA-targeted whole cell fluorescence in situ hybridization with A. massartii minicircle DNA-specific probes and demonstrated that minicircle DNAs were present in plastids. This study provides the first direct evidence for the plastid localization of dinoflagellate minicircle DNAs.