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RNA. 2008 Jul;14(7):1270-5. doi: 10.1261/rna.1054608. Epub 2008 May 29.

Distinctive structures between chimpanzee and human in a brain noncoding RNA.

Abstract

Human accelerated region 1 (HAR1) is a short DNA region identified recently to have evolved the most rapidly among highly constrained regions since the divergence from our common ancestor with chimpanzee. It is transcribed as part of a noncoding RNA specifically expressed in the developing human neocortex. Employing a panoply of enzymatic and chemical probes, our analysis of HAR1 RNA proposed a secondary structure model differing from that published. Most surprisingly, we discovered that the substitutions between the chimpanzee and human sequences led the human HAR1 RNA to adopt a cloverleaf-like structure instead of an extended and unstable hairpin in the chimpanzee sequence. Thus, the rapid evolutionary changes resulted in a profound rearrangement of HAR1 RNA structure. Altogether, our results provide a structural context for elucidating HAR1 RNA function.

PMID:
18511501
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2441984
Free PMC Article

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