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PLoS Genet. 2017 Jun 6;13(6):e1006837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006837. eCollection 2017 Jun.

A conserved role for the ESCRT membrane budding complex in LINE retrotransposition.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, United States of America.
Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.


Long interspersed nuclear element-1s (LINE-1s, or L1s) are an active family of retrotransposable elements that continue to mutate mammalian genomes. Despite the large contribution of L1 to mammalian genome evolution, we do not know where active L1 particles (particles in the process of retrotransposition) are located in the cell, or how they move towards the nucleus, the site of L1 reverse transcription. Using a yeast model of LINE retrotransposition, we identified ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) as a critical complex for LINE retrotransposition, and verified that this interaction is conserved for human L1. ESCRT interacts with L1 via a late domain motif, and this interaction facilitates L1 replication. Loss of the L1/ESCRT interaction does not impair RNP formation or enzymatic activity, but leads to loss of retrotransposition and reduced L1 endonuclease activity in the nucleus. This study highlights the importance of the ESCRT complex in the L1 life cycle and suggests an unusual mode for L1 RNP trafficking.

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