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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2005;110(1-4):365-71.

Human retroelements may introduce intragenic polyadenylation signals.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Tulane Cancer Center, SL-66, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


In the human genome, the insertion of LINE-1 and Alu elements can affect genes by sequence disruption, and by the introduction of elements that modulate the gene's expression. One of the modulating sequences retroelements may contribute is the canonical polyadenylation signal (pA), AATAAA. L1 elements include these within their own sequence and AATAAA sequences are commonly created in the A-rich tails of both SINEs and LINEs. Computational analysis of 34 genes randomly retrieved from the human genome draft sequence reveals an orientation bias, reflected as a lower number of L1s and Alus containing the pA in the same orientation as the gene. Experimental studies of Alu-based pA sequences when placed in pol II or pol III transcripts suggest that the signal is very weak, or often not used at all. Because the pA signal is highly affected by the surrounding sequence, it is likely that the Alu constructs evaluated did not provide the required recognition signals to the polyadenylation machinery. Although the effect of pA signals contributed by Alus is individually weak, the observed reduction of "sense" oriented pA-containing L1 and Alu elements within genes reflects that even a modest influence causes a change in evolutionary pressure, sufficient to create the biased distribution.

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