ae-Heup, K., Eizirik, E., O’Brien, S. J., & Johnson, W. E. Structure and patterns of sequence variation in the mitochondrial DNA control region of the great cats. Mitochondrion, 1(3), 279–292.
Mitochondrial DNA control region structure and variation were determined in the five species of the genus Panthera. Comparative analyses revealed two hypervariable segments, a central conserved region, and the occurrence of size and sequence heteroplasmy. As observed in the domestic cat, but not commonly seen in other animals, two repetitive sequence arrays (RS-2 with an 80-bp motif and RS-3 with a 6-10-bp motif) were identified. The 3′ ends of RS-2 and RS-3 were highly conserved among species, suggesting that these motifs have different functional constraints. Control region sequences provided improved phylogenetic resolution grouping the sister taxa lion (Panthera leo) and leopard (Panthera pardus), with the jaguar (Panthera onca).