The beta subunit of the mitochondrial ATP synthase in Nicotiana plumbaginifolia is encoded by two nuclear genes, atp2-1 and atp2-2, which are both expressed. The complete nucleotide sequence of atp2-1 has been determined. It contains eight introns ranging from 88 to 1453 bp. The last intron contains a putative insertion element (Inp), of 812 bp bordered by 35-bp inverted repeats which share an 11-bp homology with Agrobacterium tumefaciens T-DNA borders. Sequences homologous to Inp are present in multiple copies in the N. plumbaginifolia and the N. tabacum genome but not in more distant species. The atp2-1 encoded polypeptide is highly homologous to beta subunits from other ATP synthases but it contains an extension at the N terminus which is probably involved in mitochondrial targeting. A sequence homology between exon 4 of atp2-1 and exon 1 of the human ras genes suggests a common ancestral origin for these exons.