The 5′ ends of five full-length LINE1 (L1) repeats from the rabbit genome (L1Oc) were mapped and their nucleotide sequences determined. Computer-generated alignments showed that these five L1Oc repeats can be divided into subfamilies, each of which has a characteristic sequence upstream of the first open reading frame (ORF1). These five L1Ocs range in size from 6.5 to 7.3 kb, with 5′ ends located 76 to 1125 bp upstream of ORF1. Two of these subfamilies appear to have diverged from a common ancestor at least 66 million years ago. Comparisons of the 5′ ends of L1s from rabbit, human, mouse, and rat show no common sequence 5′ to ORF1, except for a 22-bp sequence that is found near the beginning of all characterized full-length L1s from rabbit and human. A statistical analysis indicates that this 22-bp aligned block is highly significant. Part of this 22-bp sequence matches the μE1 binding site in immunoglobulin gene enhancers. This strong conservation suggests that the μE1 binding site may be part of a transcriptional regulatory element at the 5′ ends of rabbit and human L1 repeats.
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