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Am J Hum Genet. 1989 Dec;45(6):848-54.

Homologous recombination between the LTRs of a human retrovirus-like element causes a 5-kb deletion in two siblings.

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Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The RTVL-H family of human endogenous retrovirus-like elements consists of approximately 1,000 intact members and of a similar number of solitary long terminal repeats (LTRs). In this study, the genetic heterogeneity of these elements has been investigated using unique flanking probes isolated from cDNA clones containing RTVL-H sequences. Four such probes were used to screen a panel of human DNA samples for genetic differences. One of these probes detected a 5.0-kb deletion in two related individuals. Cloning and DNA hybridization analysis indicated that the nondeleted common allele contained an intact RTVL-H element, whereas the deleted variant allele contained only a single LTR. DNA sequence comparisons strongly suggest that the deletion is due to homologous recombination between the 5' and 3' LTRs of the RTVL-H sequence. This is the first reported case of a DNA variation in humans that is due to an LTR-LTR excision event.

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