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A dimorphic Alu Sb-like insertion in COL3A1 is ethnic-specific


Alu elements are a class of repetitive DNA sequences found throughout the human genome that are thought to be duplicated via an RNA intermediate in a process termed retroposition. Recently inserted Alu elements are closely related, suggesting that they are derived from a single source gene or closely related source genes. Analysis of the type III collagen gene (COL3A1) revealed a polymorphic Alu insertion in intron 8 of the gene. The Alu insertion in the COL3A1 gene had a high degree of nucleotide identity to the Sb family of Alu elements, a family of older Alu elements. The Alu sequence was less similar to the consensus sequence for the PV or Sb2 subfamilies, subfamilies of recently inserted Alu elements. These data support the observations that at least three source genes are active in the human genome, one of which is distinct from the PV and Sb2 subfamilies and predates either of these two subfamilies. Appearance of the Alu insertion in different ethnic populations suggests that the insertion may have occurred in the last 100,000 years. This Alu insert should be a useful marker for population studies and for marking COL3A1 alleles.

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Correspondence to Dianna M. Milewicz.

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Milewicz, D.M., Byers, P.H., Reveille, J. et al. A dimorphic Alu Sb-like insertion in COL3A1 is ethnic-specific. J Mol Evol 42, 117–123 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02198836

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Key words

  • Alu sequence
  • Retrotransposon
  • Repetitive DNA
  • Collagen gene
  • Polymorphism
  • Population studies