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Trends Genet. 1994 Jun;10(6):188-93.

Alu sequences in the coding regions of mRNA: a source of protein variability.

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Division of Medical Genetics, Hôpital Sainte-Justine Research Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Dispersion of repetitive sequence elements is a source of genetic variability that contributes to genome evolution. Alu elements, the most common dispersed repeats in the human genome, can cause genetic diseases by several mechanisms, including de novo Alu insertions and splicing of intragenic Alu elements into mRNA. Such mutations might contribute positively to protein evolution if they are advantageous or neutral. To test this hypothesis, we searched the literature and sequence databases for examples of protein-coding regions that contain Alu sequences: 17 Alu 'cassettes' inserted within 15 different coding sequences were found. In three instances, these events caused genetic diseases; the possible functional significance of the other Alu-containing mRNAs is discussed. Our analysis suggests that splice-mediated insertion of intronic elements is the major mechanism by which Alu segments are introduced into mRNAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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