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J Mol Biol. 2004 Aug 20;341(4):883-6.

From "junk" to gene: curriculum vitae of a primate receptor isoform gene.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology, University of Regensburg, Germany. silke.singer@klinik.uni-regensbrug.de


Exonization of Alu retroposons awakens public opinion, particularly when causing genetic diseases. However, often neglected, alternative "Alu-exons" also carry the potential to greatly enhance genetic diversity by increasing the transcriptome of primates chiefly via alternative splicing.Here, we report a 5' exon generated from one of the two alternative transcripts in human tumor necrosis factor receptor gene type 2 (p75TNFR) that contains an ancient Alu-SINE, which provides an alternative N-terminal protein-coding domain. We follow the primate evolution over the past 63 million years to reconstruct the key events that gave rise to a novel receptor isoform. The Alu integration and start codon formation occurred between 58 and 40 million years ago (MYA) in the common ancestor of anthropoid primates. Yet a functional gene product could not be generated until a novel splice site and an open reading frame were introduced between 40 and 25 MYA on the catarrhine lineage (Old World monkeys including apes).

Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

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