Background: Recent reports indicate that retrotransposons - a type of mobile DNA - can contribute to neuronal genetic diversity in mammals. Retrotransposons are genetic elements that mobilize via an RNA intermediate by a "copy-and-paste" mechanism termed retrotransposition. Long Interspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is the only active autonomous retrotransposon in humans and its activity is responsible for ~ 30% of genomic mass. Historically, L1 retrotransposition was thought to be restricted to the germline; however, new data indicate L1 s are active in somatic tissue with certain regions of the brain being highly permissive. The functional implications of L1 insertional activity in the brain and how host cells regulate it are incomplete. While deep sequencing and qPCR analysis have shown that L1 copy number is much higher in certain parts of the human brain, direct in vivo studies regarding detection of L1-encoded proteins is lacking due to ineffective reagents. Results: Using a polyclonal antibody we generated against the RNA-binding (RRM) domain of L1 ORF1p, we observe widespread ORF1p expression in post-mortem human brain samples including the hippocampus which has known elevated rates of retrotransposition. In addition, we find that two brains from different individuals of different ages display very different expression of ORF1p, especially in the frontal cortex. Conclusions: We hypothesize that discordance of ORF1p expression in parts of the brain reported to display elevated levels of retrotransposition may suggest the existence of factors mediating post-translational regulation of L1 activity in the human brain. Furthermore, this antibody reagent will be useful as a complementary means to confirm findings related to retrotransposon biology and activity in the brain and other tissues in vivo.
- Active retrotransposition in human brain
- ORF1p antibody
- Somatic mosaicism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology