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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jun 25;93(13):6470-5.

Microsatellite spreading in the human genome: evolutionary mechanisms and structural implications.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


Microsatellites are tandem repeat sequences abundant in the genomes of higher eukaryotes and hitherto considered as "junk DNA." Analysis of a human genome representative data base (2.84 Mb) reveals a distinct juxtaposition of A-rich microsatellites and retroposons and suggests their coevolution. The analysis implies that most microsatellites were generated by a 3'-extension of retrotranscripts, similar to mRNA polyadenylylation, and that they serve in turn as "retroposition navigators," directing the retroposons via homology-driven integration into defined sites. Thus, they became instrumental in the preservation and extension of primordial genomic patterns. A role is assigned to these reiterating A-rich loci in the higher-order organization of the chromatin. The disease-associated triplet repeats are mostly found in coding regions and do not show an association with retroposons, constituting a unique set within the family of microsatellite sequences.

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