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Genetica. 1999;107(1-3):39-51.

Human L1 retrotransposition: insights and peculiarities learned from a cultured cell retrotransposition assay.

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Department of Human Genetics and Internal Medicine, The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0618, USA.


Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (L1s or LINEs) are the most abundant retrotransposons in the human genome, and they comprise approximately 17% of DNA. L1 retrotransposition can be mutagenic, and deleterious insertions both in the germ-line and in somatic cells have resulted in disease. Recently, an assay was developed to monitor L1 retrotransposition in cultured human cells. This assay, for the first time, now allows for a systematic study of L1 retrotransposition at the molecular level. Here, I will review progress made in L1 biology during the past three years. In general, I will limit the discussion to studies conducted on human L1s. However, interesting parallels to rodent L1s and other non-LTR retrotransposons also will be discussed.

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