GENETICS: Give and Take

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Science  07 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5463, pp. 13d-13
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5463.13d

Genetic determinism notwithstanding, the human genome is hardly a stable place. It is peppered with up to 100,000 copies of long interspersed elements (LINEs), endogenous mobile elements that can excise themselves from the genome and insert into new positions, thus generating much of the insertional mutagenesis in the human genome. According to Esnault et al., LINEs also are responsible for another phenomenon that remodels the genomethe generation of so-called pseudogenes, which are DNA copies of existing transcribed genes sans introns and promotor, and which may serve as raw material for evolution. Transfection of cells with LINE expression vectors and reporter genes yields retroposition (reverse transcription and integration) of the reporter gene into the genome. The implication of LINE elements in the generation of pseudogenes in mammalian cells is satisfyingly consistent with the absence of LINEs or pseudogenes in the yeast genome.KK

Nature Genet.24, 363 (2000).

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