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Genetica. 1992;86(1-3):191-201.

Retrotransposons and the evolution of mammalian gene expression.

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Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109.


Transposable elements, and retroviral-like elements in particular, are a rich potential source of genetic variation within a host's genome. Many mutations of endogenous genes in phylogenetically diverse organisms are due to insertion of elements that affect gene expression by altering the normal pattern of regulation. While few such associations are known to have been maintained over time, two recently elucidated examples suggest transposable elements may have a significant impact in evolution of gene expression. The first example, concerning the mouse sex-limited protein (Slp), clearly establishes that ancient retroviral enhancer sequences now confer hormonal dependence on the adjacent gene. The second example shows that within the human amylase gene family, salivary specific expression has arisen due to inserted sequences, deriving perhaps from a conjunction of two retrotransposable elements.

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