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    Raillietina species belong to the family Davaineidae, which parasitizes in a wide variety of mammals and birds, causing stunted growth, lethargy, emaciation, and digestive tract obstruction. However, only a limited number of Raillietina species have been identified in wild animals. We analyzed and annotated the complete mitochondrial (mt) genome of a worm from the intestine of a wild pangolin using Illumina sequencing of whole genomic DNA. These findings showed the presence of two mtDNA sequences in Raillietina sp., designated as mt1 and mt2, with the lengths of 14,331 bp and 14,341 bp, respectively. Both the mts genomes of Raillietina sp. comprised 36 genes, containing 12 protein-coding genes (PCGs), 2 ribosomal RNAs, and 22 transfer RNAs. Gene arrangements of both mt genomes of Raillietina sp. were similar to those of most flatworms, except for taeniids, which shift positions between tRNAL1 and tRNAS2 genes. Twenty of 22 tRNA secondary structures of Raillietina sp. had a typical cloverleaf structure similar to Raillietina tetragona. Sequence differences between the mt1 and mt2 genomes were 4.4%, and this difference arises from the mtDNA heteroplasmic mutations. Moreover, heteroplasmic mtDNA mutations were detected in PCGs, tRNAs, rRNAs, NCRs, and intergenes, but the highest proportion of heteroplasmy of 79.0% was detected in PCGs, indicating the occurrence of mtDNA heteroplasmy in Raillietina sp. To our knowledge, this is the first report of mtDNA heteroplasmy in tapeworm parasites. Phylogenetic analyses of 18S rRNA, ITS2, and 12 PCG sequences demonstrated that the worm was clustered with other Raillietina species in the Davaneidae family. We found a novel Raillietina species in wild pangolin with the existence of mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy. Thus, these findings provide insights into the heterogeneity of the mt genome in parasitic cestodes, and mt genome data contributes to the understanding of pangolin-parasitic cestodes in terms of their molecular biology, epidemiology, diagnosis, and taxonomy. © 2022. The Author(s).


    Merga Daba Tuli, Hongyi Li, Xi Pan, Song Li, Junqiong Zhai, Yajiang Wu, Wu Chen, Wanyi Huang, Yaoyu Feng, Lihua Xiao, Dongjuan Yuan. Heteroplasmic mitochondrial genomes of a Raillietina tapeworm in wild Pangolin. Parasites & vectors. 2022 Jun 13;15(1):204

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    PMID: 35698206

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