Detection of Retrotransposition Activity of Hot LINE-1s by Long-Distance Inverse PCR

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Long interspersed nuclear elements 1 (LINE-1s) are the only family of mobile genetic elements in the human genome that can move autonomously. They do so by a process called retrotransposition wherein they transcribe to form an mRNA intermediate which is then consequently inserted into the genome by reverse transcription. Despite being silent in normal cells, LINE-1s are highly active in different epithelial tumors. De novo LINE-1 insertions can potentially drive tumorigenesis, and hence it is important to systematically study LINE-1 retrotransposition in cancer. Out of ~150 retrotransposition-competent LINE-1s present in the human genome, only a handful of LINE-1 loci, also referred to as "hot" LINE-1s, account for the majority of de novo LINE-1 insertion in different cancer types. We have developed a simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method to monitor retrotransposition activity of these hot LINE-1s. This method, based on long-distance inverse (LDI)-PCR, takes advantage of 3´ transduction, a mechanism by which a LINE-1 mobilizes its flanking non-repetitive region, which can subsequently be used to identify de novo LINE-1 3´ transduction events stemming from a particular hot LINE-1.