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Transcriptional activation of a chimeric retrogene PIPSL in a hominoid ancestor
Kenya Matsumura, Hiroo Imai, Yasuhiro Go, Masatoshi Kusuhara, Ken Yamaguchi, Tsuyoshi Shirai, Kazuhiko Ohshima

Retrogenes are a class of functional genes derived from the mRNA of various intron-containing genes. PIPSL was created through a unique mechanism, whereby distinct genes were assembled at the RNA level, and the resulting chimera was then reverse transcribed and integrated into the genome by the L1 retrotransposon. Expression of PIPSL RNA via its transcription start sites (TSSs) has been confirmed in the testes of humans and chimpanzee. Here, we demonstrated that PIPSL RNA is expressed in the testis of the white-handed gibbon. The 5-end positions of gibbon RNAs were confined to a narrow range upstream of the PIPSL start codon and overlapped with those of orangutan and human, suggesting that PIPSL TSSs are similar among hominoid species. Reporter assays using a luciferase gene and the flanking sequences of human PIPSL showed that an upstream sequence exhibits weak promoter activity in human cells. Our findings suggest that PIPSL might have acquired a promoter at an early stage of hominoid evolution before the divergence of gibbons and ultimately retained similar TSSs in all of the lineages. Moreover, the upstream sequence derived from the phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase, type I, alpha 5' untranslated region and/or neighboring repetitive sequences in the genome possibly exhibits promoter activity. Furthermore, we observed that a TATA-box-like sequence has emerged by nucleotide substitution in a lineage leading to humans, with this possibly responsible for a broader distribution of the human PIPSL TSSs.
Bibliographic information

Gene Volume 678, 15 December 2018, Pages 318-323

2018/10/05 Primate Research Institute