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Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 Feb 11;20(3):487-93.

Fusion of a free left Alu monomer and a free right Alu monomer at the origin of the Alu family in the primate genomes.

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  • Theoretical Biology and Biophysics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM 87545.


In the primate genome, a typical Alu element corresponds to a dimeric structure composed of two different but related monomeric sequences arranged in tandem. However, the analysis of primate sequences found in GenBank reveals the presence of free left and free right Alu elements. Here, we report the statistical study of those monomeric elements. We found that only a small fraction of them results from a deletion of a dimeric Alu sequence. The majority derives from the amplification of monomeric progenitor sequences and constitutes two families of monomeric elements: a family of free left Alu monomers that is composed of two subfamilies and a small family of free right Alu monomers. Both families predated the dimeric Alu elements, and a phylogenetic analysis strongly suggests that the first progenitor of the dimeric Alu family arose through the fusion of a free left monomer with a free right monomer.

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