Kinetoplast DNA, the mitochondrial DNA of trypanosomatid parasites, is a network containing several thousand minicircles and a few dozen maxicircles. We compared kinetoplast DNA replication in Trypanosoma brucei and Crithidia fasciculata using fluorescence in situ hybridization and electron microscopy of isolated networks. One difference is in the location of maxicircles in situ. In C. fasciculata, maxicircles are concentrated in discrete foci embedded in the kinetoplast disk; during replication the foci increase in number but remain scattered throughout the disk. In contrast, T. brucei maxicircles generally fill the entire disk. Unlike those in C. fasciculata, T. brucei maxicircles become highly concentrated in the central region of the kinetoplast after replication; then during segregation they redistribute throughout the daughter kinetoplasts. T. brucei and C. fasciculata also differ in the pattern of attachment of newly synthesized minicircles to the network. In C. fasciculata it was known that minicircles are attached at two antipodal sites but subsequently are found uniformly distributed around the network periphery, possibly due to a relative movement of the kinetoplast disk and two protein complexes responsible for minicircle synthesis and attachment. In T. brucei, minicircles appear to be attached at two antipodal sites but then remain concentrated in these two regions. Therefore, the relative movement of the kinetoplast and the two protein complexes may not occur in T. brucei.

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