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Genetics. Feb 2001; 157(2): 777–784.
PMCID: PMC1461532

SINE insertions in cladistic analyses and the phylogenetic affiliations of Tarsius bancanus to other primates.


Transpositions of Alu sequences, representing the most abundant primate short interspersed elements (SINE), were evaluated as molecular cladistic markers to analyze the phylogenetic affiliations among the primate infraorders. Altogether 118 human loci, containing intronic Alu elements, were PCR analyzed for the presence of Alu sequences at orthologous sites in each of two strepsirhine, New World and Old World monkey species, Tarsius bancanus, and a nonprimate outgroup. Fourteen size-polymorphic amplification patterns exhibited longer fragments for the anthropoids (New World and Old World monkeys) and T. bancanus whereas shorter fragments were detected for the strepsirhines and the outgroup. From these, subsequent sequence analyses revealed three Alu transpositions, which can be regarded as shared derived molecular characters linking tarsiers and anthropoid primates. Concerning the other loci, scenarios are represented in which different SINE transpositions occurred independently in the same intron on the lineages leading both to the common ancestor of anthropoids and to T. bancanus, albeit at different nucleotide positions. Our results demonstrate the efficiency and possible pitfalls of SINE transpositions used as molecular cladistic markers in tracing back a divergence point in primate evolution over 40 million years old. The three Alu insertions characterized underpin the monophyly of haplorhine primates (Anthropoidea and Tarsioidea) from a novel perspective.

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Selected References

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