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Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Nov 1;24(21):4165-70.

Monomeric scAlu and nascent dimeric Alu RNAs induced by adenovirus are assembled into SRP9/14-containing RNPs in HeLa cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Nearly 1 000 000 copies of Alu interspersed elements comprise approximately 5% of human DNA. Alu elements cause gene disruptions by a process known as retrotransposition, in which dimeric Alu RNA is a presumed intermediate. Dimeric Alu transcripts are labile, giving rise to stable left monomeric scAlu RNAs whose levels are tightly regulated. Induction of Alu RNA by viral infection or cell stress leads to a dramatic increase in dimeric Alu transcripts, while scAlu RNA increases modestly. Each monomer of the dimeric Alu element shares sequence homology with the 7SL RNA component of the signal recognition particle (SRP). The SRP protein known as SRP9/14 is also found in a discrete complex with scAlu RNA, although whether dimeric Alu RNA is associated with SRP9/14 had been unknown. Here we show that antiserum to human SRP9 immunoprecipitates both scAlu RNA and dimeric Alu RNAs and that these RNPs accumulate after adenovirus infection, while levels of SRP9, SRP14, SRP54 and 7SL SRP RNA are unaffected. Dimeric Alu RNAs are also associated with the La protein, indicating that these are indeed nascent RNA polymerase III transcripts. This report documents that induced Alu transcripts are assembled into SRP9/14-containing RNPs in vivo while SRP levels are unchanged. Implications for Alu RNA metabolism and evolution are discussed.

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