Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 424726, 16 pages
Review Article

RNA-Mediated Gene Duplication and Retroposons: Retrogenes, LINEs, SINEs, and Sequence Specificity

Graduate School of Bioscience, Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology, Nagahama 526-0829, Japan

Received 14 May 2013; Accepted 1 July 2013

Academic Editor: Frédéric Brunet

Copyright © 2013 Kazuhiko Ohshima. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A substantial number of “retrogenes” that are derived from the mRNA of various intron-containing genes have been reported. A class of mammalian retroposons, long interspersed element-1 (LINE1, L1), has been shown to be involved in the reverse transcription of retrogenes (or processed pseudogenes) and non-autonomous short interspersed elements (SINEs). The -end sequences of various SINEs originated from a corresponding LINE. As the -untranslated regions of several LINEs are essential for retroposition, these LINEs presumably require “stringent” recognition of the -end sequence of the RNA template. However, the -ends of mammalian L1s do not exhibit any similarity to SINEs, except for the presence of -poly(A) repeats. Since the -poly(A) repeats of L1 and Alu SINE are critical for their retroposition, L1 probably recognizes the poly(A) repeats, thereby mobilizing not only Alu SINE but also cytosolic mRNA. Many flowering plants only harbor L1-clade LINEs and a significant number of SINEs with poly(A) repeats, but no homology to the LINEs. Moreover, processed pseudogenes have also been found in flowering plants. I propose that the ancestral L1-clade LINE in the common ancestor of green plants may have recognized a specific RNA template, with stringent recognition then becoming relaxed during the course of plant evolution.