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DNA Res. 2011 Aug;18(4):211-9. doi: 10.1093/dnares/dsr012. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Identification of tammar wallaby SIRH12, derived from a marsupial-specific retrotransposition event.

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Department of Epigenetics, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Japan.


In humans and mice, there are 11 genes derived from sushi-ichi related retrotransposons, some of which are known to play essential roles in placental development. Interestingly, this family of retrotransposons was thought to exist only in eutherian mammals, indicating their significant contributions to the eutherian evolution, but at least one, PEG10, is conserved between marsupials and eutherians. Here we report a novel sushi-ichi retrotransposon-derived gene, SIRH12, in the tammar wallaby, an Australian marsupial species of the kangaroo family. SIRH12 encodes a protein highly homologous to the sushi-ichi retrotransposon Gag protein in the tammar wallaby, while SIRH12 in the South American short-tailed grey opossum is a pseudogene degenerated by accumulation of multiple nonsense mutations. This suggests that SIRH12 retrotransposition occurred only in the marsupial lineage but acquired and retained some as yet unidentified novel function, at least in the lineage of the tammar wallaby.

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