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Frequency and methylation status of selected retrotransposition competent L1 loci in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Savage, A.L., Lopez, A.I., Iacoangeli, A., Bubb, V.J., Smith, B., Troakes, C., Alahmady, N., Kõks, S., Schumann, G.G., Al-Chalabi, A. and Quinn, J.P. (2020) Frequency and methylation status of selected retrotransposition competent L1 loci in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Molecular Brain, 13 (1). Art. 154.

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Abstract

Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1/L1) is the only autonomous transposable element in the human genome that currently mobilises in both germline and somatic tissues. Recent studies have identified correlations between altered retrotransposon expression and the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in a subset of patients. The risk of an individual developing ALS is dependent on an interaction of genetic variants and subsequent modifiers during life. These modifiers could include environmental factors, which can lead to epigenetic and genomic changes, such as somatic mutations, occurring in the neuronal cells that degenerate as the disease develops. There are more than 1 million L1 copies in the human genome today, but only 80–100 L1 loci in the reference genome are considered to be retrotransposition-competent (RC) and an even smaller number of these RC-L1s loci are highly active. We hypothesise that RC-L1s could affect normal cellular function through their mutagenic potential conferred by their ability to retrotranspose in neuronal cells and through DNA damage caused by the endonuclease activity of the L1-encoded ORF2 protein. To investigate whether either an increase in the genomic burden of RC-L1s or epigenetic changes to RC-L1s altering their expression, could play a role in disease development, we chose a set of seven well characterised genomic RC-L1 loci that were reported earlier to be highly active in a cellular L1 retrotransposition reporter assay or serve as major source elements for germline and/or somatic retrotransposition events. Analysis of the insertion allele frequency of five polymorphic RC-L1s, out of the set of seven, for their presence or absence, did not identify an increased number individually or when combined in individuals with the disease. However, we did identify reduced levels of methylation of RC-L1s in the motor cortex of those individuals with both familial and sporadic ALS compared to control brains. The changes to the regulation of the loci encompassing these RC-L1s demonstrated tissue specificity and could be related to the disease process.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics (CMMIT)
Publisher: BioMed Central
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/58842
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