Long poly(A) tracts in the human genome are associated with the Alu family of repeated elements.
Long poly(dA).poly(dT) tracts (poly(A) tracts), regions of DNA containing at least 20 contiguous dA residues on one strand and dT residues on the complementary strand, are found in about 2 X 10(4) copies interspersed throughout the human genome. Using poly(dA).poly(dA) as a hybridization probe, we identified recombinant lambda phage that contained inserts of human DNA with poly(A) tracts. Three such tracts have been characterized by restriction mapping and sequence analysis. One major poly(A) tract is present within each insert and is composed of from 28 to 35 A residues. In each case, the poly(A) tract directly abuts the 3' end of the human Alu element, indicating that the major class of poly(A) tracts in the human genome is associated with this family of repeats. The poly(A) tracts are also adjacent to A-rich sequences and, in one case, to a polypurine tract, having the structure GA3-GA3-GA4-GA6-GA5-GA4. We suggest that repetitive cycles of unequal crossing over may give rise to both the long poly(A) and polypurine tracts observed in this study.
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