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Alu sequences and human evolution

FOSTERCMD fostercmd at aol.com
Tue Jul 19 21:00:05 EST 1994

In article <30gkio$g37 at search01.news.aol.com>, fostercmd at aol.com
(FOSTERCMD) writes:

Subj:	Re: Alu sequences and human evolution
Date:	94-07-19 21:19:21 EDT
From:	drierac at deakin.edu.au

In article <30fhlj$7vf at search01.news.aol.com> fostercmd at aol.com
(FOSTERCMD) writes:
>From: fostercmd at aol.com (FOSTERCMD)
>Subject: Alu sequences and human evolution
>Date: 18 Jul 1994 23:35:15 -0400

>I am attempting to collect information on theories or ideas for the
>of Alu 
>sequences.  My recollection from medical school days at Stanford is that
>they are uniquely human and have resemblances to LTV regions of
>retroviruses. Is this correct?   I am building a theory of evolution
>postulates that viral integration
>into germ lines has played a significant role during the punctuated
>periods in the
>evolutionary history of life on earth.   It is my belief that specific
>types of viruses
>originate from beyond earth,  arrive via comet vectors and their tail
>debris, rain on
>earth and cause episodic jumps in the evolution of life.   I am
>to collect 
>material to further expand or refute this theory.   Does anybody have
>or thoughts to share?    The black stone in the Kabab in Mecca may be a
>to the story since it is supposed to be a carbonaceous meteorite which
>originated from a comet?  Have there been any PCR studies on these types
>meteorites inorder to search for viruses (DNA or RNA).  ?   Has anybody
>developed a reasonable phylogenetic tree for viruses? or incorporated
>viruses into
>the grand scheme of the origin of life?   I have heard of Sir Fred Hoyle
>and read
>his lecture entitled  The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of
>Religion  but
>I haven't read any of his ideas on the existence of viruses or other
>of life on
>comets.   Can somebody tell me what his ideas are?
>Thanks   Foster P. Carr MD  7/18/94  fostercmd at aol.com 

The alu sequence appears to have arisen by partial duplication of the
B1 which is still present in bovine and rodent genomes. That B1 sequence 
appears to have arisen from genomic 7S RNA. Where the short poly A tail
from is not clear-because there is an abundence of possibilities.

Alu has no ORFs and any enzyme action would have to be ribozymal. To my 
knowledge, no one has looked for ribozymal action in alu, but there are 
somewhat similar sequences in the frog genomes which do.  It is currently
that alu moves by retrotranscription with reverse transcriptase being
in trans by LINE-1 elements.

The evolution of LINE-1 is most probably from a retrovirus. There is an 
instructive series of IAP sequences in mice, which starts with a 
obviously retroviral sequence including an env gene. At the other end of
sequence there is a sequence which is structurally closely related to

In addition of course there are a number of endogenous retrovirus (HERVs) 
sequences which I expect some day someone will show that they are up to no


The question of the origin of the retroviruses is not so clear. The degree
homology between e.g reverse transcriptase and other polymerases indicates
common ancestor, although any attempt to put a time frame to it will only
be a 
wild guess. The question is further complicated by the fact that separate 
parts of the virus genome may have arisen quite independently.

In common with many other people. I don't like extra terrestrial origin 
stories because it makes the story unneccesarily complicated without 
explaining anything. This is the principal of parsimony.

If you want fruther details try an on line search. There are a number of 
excellent reviews available and some of the keywords from above may help.

Chris Driver
Deakinj University

Chris Driver, Ph D
School of Biology and Chemistry, Rusden Campus
Deakin University
662 Blackburn Rd
Clayton, VIC, 3168

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