The non-autonomous retrotransposon SVA is trans-mobilized by the human LINE-1 protein machinery.
ABSTRACT: SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) elements are non-autonomous, hominid-specific non-LTR retrotransposons and distinguished by their organization as composite mobile elements. They represent the evolutionarily youngest, currently active family of human non-LTR retrotransposons, and sporadically generate disease-causing insertions. Since preexisting, genomic SVA sequences are characterized by structural hallmarks of Long Interspersed Elements 1 (LINE-1, L1)-mediated retrotransposition, it has been hypothesized for several years that SVA elements are mobilized by the L1 protein machinery in trans. To test this hypothesis, we developed an SVA retrotransposition reporter assay in cell culture using three different human-specific SVA reporter elements. We demonstrate that SVA elements are mobilized in HeLa cells only in the presence of both L1-encoded proteins, ORF1p and ORF2p. SVA trans-mobilization rates exceeded pseudogene formation frequencies by 12- to 300-fold in HeLa-HA cells, indicating that SVA elements represent a preferred substrate for L1 proteins. Acquisition of an AluSp element increased the trans-mobilization frequency of the SVA reporter element by ~25-fold. Deletion of (CCCTCT)(n) repeats and Alu-like region of a canonical SVA reporter element caused significant attenuation of the SVA trans-mobilization rate. SVA de novo insertions were predominantly full-length, occurred preferentially in G+C-rich regions, and displayed all features of L1-mediated retrotransposition which are also observed in preexisting genomic SVA insertions.
Project description:Human retrotransposons generate structural variation and genomic diversity through ongoing retrotransposition and non-allelic homologous recombination. Cell culture retrotransposition assays have provided great insight into the genomic impact of retrotransposons, in particular, LINE-1(L1) and Alu elements; however, no such assay exists for the youngest active human retrotransposon, SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA). Here we report the development of an SVA cell culture retrotransposition assay. We marked several SVAs with either neomycin or EGFP retrotransposition indicator cassettes. Engineered SVAs retrotranspose using L1 proteins supplemented in trans in multiple cell lines, including U2OS osteosarcoma cells where SVA retrotransposition is equal to that of an engineered L1. Engineered SVAs retrotranspose at 1-54 times the frequency of a marked pseudogene in HeLa HA cells. Furthermore, our data suggest a variable requirement for L1 ORF1p for SVA retrotransposition. Recovered engineered SVA insertions display all the hallmarks of LINE-1 retrotransposition and some contain 5' and 3' transductions, which are common for genomic SVAs. Of particular interest is the fact that four out of five insertions recovered from one SVA are full-length, with the 5' end of these insertions beginning within 5 nt of the CMV promoter transcriptional start site. This assay demonstrates that SVA elements are indeed mobilized in trans by L1. Previously intractable questions regarding SVA biology can now be addressed.
Project description:LINE-Alu-VNTR-Alu-like (LAVA) elements comprise a family of non-autonomous, composite, non-LTR retrotransposons specific to gibbons and may have played a role in the evolution of this lineage. A full-length LAVA element consists of portions of repeats found in most primate genomes: CT-rich, Alu-like, and VNTR regions from the SVA retrotransposon, and portions of the AluSz and L1ME5 elements. To evaluate whether the gibbon genome currently harbors functional LAVA elements capable of mobilization by the endogenous LINE-1 (L1) protein machinery and which LAVA components are important for retrotransposition, we established a trans-mobilization assay in HeLa cells. Specifically, we tested if a full-length member of the older LAVA subfamily C that was isolated from the gibbon genome and named LAVAC, or its components, can be mobilized in the presence of the human L1 protein machinery. We show that L1 proteins mobilize the LAVAC element at frequencies exceeding processed pseudogene formation and human SVAE retrotransposition by > 100-fold and ≥3-fold, respectively. We find that only the SVA-derived portions confer activity, and truncation of the 3' L1ME5 portion increases retrotransposition rates by at least 100%. Tagged de novo insertions integrated into intronic regions in cell culture, recapitulating findings in the gibbon genome. Finally, we present alternative models for the rise of the LAVA retrotransposon in the gibbon lineage.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is a dominant repetitive sequence in the human genome. Besides mediating its own retrotransposition, L1 can mobilize Alu and messenger RNA (mRNA) in trans, and probably also SVA and non-coding RNA. The structures of L1 copies and trans-mobilized retrocopies are variable and can be classified into three categories: full-length; 5'-truncated; and 5'-inverted insertions. These structures may be generated by different 5' integration mechanisms. RESULTS: In this study, a method to correctly characterize insertions with short target site duplications (TSDs) is developed and extranucleotides, TSDs and microhomologies (MHs) at junctions were analysed for the three types of insertions. Only 5'-truncated L1 insertions were found to be associated with short TSDs. Both full-length and 5'-truncated retrotransposed sequences in trans, including Alu, SVA and mRNA retrocopies and also full-length and 5'-inverted L1, were not associated with short TSDs, indicating the difference of 5' attachment between retrotransposition in cis and retrotransposition in trans. Target sequence analysis suggested that short TSDs were generated in an L1 endonuclease-dependent manner. The MHs were longer for 5'-inverted L1 than for 5'-truncated L1, indicating less dependence on annealing in 5'-truncated L1 insertions. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that insertions flanked by short TSDs occur more often coupled with the insertion of 5'-truncated L1 than with those of other types of insertions in vivo. The method used in this study can be used to characterize elements without any apparent boundary structures.
Project description:L1 elements are the only active autonomous retrotransposons in the human genome. The nonautonomous Alu elements, as well as processed pseudogenes, are retrotransposed by the L1 retrotransposition proteins working in trans. Here, we describe another repetitive sequence in the human genome, the SVA element. Our analysis reveals that SVA elements are currently active in the human genome. SVA elements, like Alus and L1s, occasionally insert into genes and cause disease. Furthermore, SVA elements are probably mobilized in trans by active L1 elements.
Project description:Retrotransposons are mobile genetic elements that use a germline 'copy-and-paste' mechanism to spread throughout metazoan genomes. At least 50 per cent of the human genome is derived from retrotransposons, with three active families (L1, Alu and SVA) associated with insertional mutagenesis and disease. Epigenetic and post-transcriptional suppression block retrotransposition in somatic cells, excluding early embryo development and some malignancies. Recent reports of L1 expression and copy number variation in the human brain suggest that L1 mobilization may also occur during later development. However, the corresponding integration sites have not been mapped. Here we apply a high-throughput method to identify numerous L1, Alu and SVA germline mutations, as well as 7,743 putative somatic L1 insertions, in the hippocampus and caudate nucleus of three individuals. Surprisingly, we also found 13,692 somatic Alu insertions and 1,350 SVA insertions. Our results demonstrate that retrotransposons mobilize to protein-coding genes differentially expressed and active in the brain. Thus, somatic genome mosaicism driven by retrotransposition may reshape the genetic circuitry that underpins normal and abnormal neurobiological processes.
Project description:RNA-based duplication mediated by reverse transcriptase (RT), a process termed retrotransposition, is ongoing in humans and is a source of significant inter- and perhaps intraindividual genomic variation. The long interspersed element 1 (LINE-1 or L1) ORF2 protein is the genomic source for RT activity required for mobilization of its own RNA in cis and other RNAs, such as SINE/variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR)/Alu (SVA) elements, in trans. SVA elements are ~2-kb hominid-specific noncoding RNAs that have resulted in single-gene disease in humans through insertional mutagenesis or aberrant mRNA splicing. Here, using an SVA retrotransposition cell culture assay in U2OS cells, we investigated SVA domains important in L1-mediated SVA retrotransposition. Partial- and whole-domain deletions revealed that removal of either the Alu-like or SINE-R domain in the context of a full-length SVA has little to no effect, whereas removal of the CT hexamer or the VNTR domain can result in a 75% decrease in activity. Additional experiments demonstrate that the Alu-like fragment alone can retrotranspose at low levels while the addition of the CT hexamer can enhance activity as much as 2-fold compared to that of the full-length SVA. These results suggest that no SVA domain is essential for retrotransposition in U2OS cells and that the 5' end of SVA (hexamer and Alu-like domain) is sufficient for retrotransposition.
Project description:Mobile elements comprise close to one half of the mass of the human genome. Only LINE-1 (L1), an autonomous non-Long Terminal Repeat (LTR) retrotransposon, and its non-autonomous partners-such as the retropseudogenes, SVA, and the SINE, Alu-are currently active human retroelements. Experimental evidence shows that Alu retrotransposition depends on L1 ORF2 protein, which has led to the presumption that LINEs and SINEs share the same basic insertional mechanism. Our data demonstrate clear differences in the time required to generate insertions between marked Alu and L1 elements. In our tissue culture system, the process of L1 insertion requires close to 48 hours. In contrast to the RNA pol II-driven L1, we find that pol III transcribed elements (Alu, the rodent SINE B2, and the 7SL, U6 and hY sequences) can generate inserts within 24 hours or less. Our analyses demonstrate that the observed retrotransposition timing does not dictate insertion rate and is independent of the type of reporter cassette utilized. The additional time requirement by L1 cannot be directly attributed to differences in transcription, transcript length, splicing processes, ORF2 protein production, or the ability of functional ORF2p to reach the nucleus. However, the insertion rate of a marked Alu transcript drastically drops when driven by an RNA pol II promoter (CMV) and the retrotransposition timing parallels that of L1. Furthermore, the "pol II Alu transcript" behaves like the processed pseudogenes in our retrotransposition assay, requiring supplementation with L1 ORF1p in addition to ORF2p. We postulate that the observed differences in retrotransposition kinetics of these elements are dictated by the type of RNA polymerase generating the transcript. We present a model that highlights the critical differences of LINE and SINE transcripts that likely define their retrotransposition timing.
Project description:Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are capable of unlimited proliferation and can differentiate in vitro to generate derivatives of the three primary germ layers. Genetic and epigenetic abnormalities have been reported by Wissing and colleagues to occur during hiPSC derivation, including mobilization of engineered LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposons. However, incidence and functional impact of endogenous retrotransposition in hiPSCs are yet to be established. Here we apply retrotransposon capture sequencing to eight hiPSC lines and three human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines, revealing endogenous L1, Alu and SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) mobilization during reprogramming and pluripotent stem cell cultivation. Surprisingly, 4/7 de novo L1 insertions are full length and 6/11 retrotransposition events occurred in protein-coding genes expressed in pluripotent stem cells. We further demonstrate that an intronic L1 insertion in the CADPS2 gene is acquired during hiPSC cultivation and disrupts CADPS2 expression. These experiments elucidate endogenous retrotransposition, and its potential consequences, in hiPSCs and hESCs.
Project description:Long interspersed element 1s (LINE-1s or L1s) are a family of non-long-terminal-repeat retrotransposons that predominate in the human genome. Active LINE-1 elements encode proteins required for their mobilization. L1-encoded proteins also act in trans to mobilize short interspersed elements (SINEs), such as Alu elements. L1 and Alu insertions have been implicated in many human diseases, and their retrotransposition provides an ongoing source of human genetic diversity. L1/Alu elements are expected to ensure their transmission to subsequent generations by retrotransposing in germ cells or during early embryonic development. Here, we determined that several subfamilies of Alu elements are expressed in undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and that most expressed Alu elements are active elements. We also exploited expression from the L1 antisense promoter to map expressed elements in hESCs. Remarkably, we found that expressed Alu elements are enriched in the youngest subfamily, Y, and that expressed L1s are mostly located within genes, suggesting an epigenetic control of retrotransposon expression in hESCs. Together, these data suggest that distinct subsets of active L1/Alu elements are expressed in hESCs and that the degree of somatic mosaicism attributable to L1 insertions during early development may be higher than previously anticipated.
Project description:Germline mutation rates in humans have been estimated for a variety of mutation types, including single-nucleotide and large structural variants. Here, we directly measure the germline retrotransposition rate for the three active retrotransposon elements: L1, Alu, and SVA. We used three tools for calling mobile element insertions (MEIs) (MELT, RUFUS, and TranSurVeyor) on blood-derived whole-genome sequence (WGS) data from 599 CEPH individuals, comprising 33 three-generation pedigrees. We identified 26 de novo MEIs in 437 births. The retrotransposition rate estimates for Alu elements, one in 40 births, is roughly half the rate estimated using phylogenetic analyses, a difference in magnitude similar to that observed for single-nucleotide variants. The L1 retrotransposition rate is one in 63 births and is within range of previous estimates (1:20-1:200 births). The SVA retrotransposition rate, one in 63 births, is much higher than the previous estimate of one in 900 births. Our large, three-generation pedigrees allowed us to assess parent-of-origin effects and the timing of insertion events in either gametogenesis or early embryonic development. We find a statistically significant paternal bias in Alu retrotransposition. Our study represents the first in-depth analysis of the rate and dynamics of human retrotransposition from WGS data in three-generation human pedigrees.