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Genesis of ancestral haplotypes: RNA modifications and reverse transcription–mediated polymorphisms

Steele, E.J., Williamson, J.F., Lester, S., Stewart, B.J., Millman, J.A., Carnegie, P., Lindley, R.A., Pain, G.N. and Dawkins, R.L. (2011) Genesis of ancestral haplotypes: RNA modifications and reverse transcription–mediated polymorphisms. Human Immunology, 72 (3). 283-293.e1.

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Understanding the genesis of the block haplotype structure of the genome is a major challenge. With the completion of the sequencing of the Human Genome and the initiation of the HapMap project the concept that the chromosomes of the mammalian genome are a mosaic, or patchwork, of conserved extended block haplotype sequences is now accepted by the mainstream genomics research community. Ancestral Haplotypes (AHs) can be viewed as a recombined string of smaller Polymorphic Frozen Blocks (PFBs). How have such variant extended DNA sequence tracts emerged in evolution? Here the relevant literature on the problem is reviewed from various fields of molecular and cell biology particularly molecular immunology and comparative and functional genomics. Based on our synthesis we then advance a testable molecular and cellular model. A critical part of the analysis concerns the origin of the strand biased mutation signatures in the transcribed regions of the human and higher primate genome, A-to-G versus T-to-C (ratio ~1.5 fold) and C-to-T versus G-to-A (≥1.5 fold). A comparison and evaluation of the current state of the fields of immunoglobulin Somatic Hypermutation (SHM) and Transcription-Coupled DNA Repair focused on how mutations in newly synthesized RNA might be copied back to DNA thus accounting for some of the genome-wide strand biases (e.g., the A-to-G vs T-to-C component of the strand biased spectrum). We hypothesize that the genesis of PFBs and extended AHs occurs during mutagenic episodes in evolution (e.g., retroviral infections) and that many of the critical DNA sequence diversifying events occur first at the RNA level, e.g., recombination between RNA strings resulting in tandem and dispersed RNA duplications (retroduplications), RNA mutations via adenosine-to-inosine pre-mRNA editing events as well as error prone RNA synthesis. These are then copied back into DNA by a cellular reverse transcription process (also likely to be error-prone) that we have called "reverse transcription-mediated long DNA conversion." Finally we suggest that all these activities and others can be envisaged as being brought physically under the umbrella of special sites in the nucleus involved in transcription known as "transcription factories.".

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: 2011 American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics
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