Background: Research into great ape genomes has revealed widely divergent activity levels over time for Alu elements. However, the diversity of this mobile element family in the genome of the western lowland gorilla has previously been uncharacterized. Alu elements are primate-specific short interspersed elements that have been used as phylogenetic and population genetic markers for more than two decades. Alu elements are present at high copy number in the genomes of all primates surveyed thus far. The AluY subfamily and its derivatives have been recognized as the evolutionarily youngest Alu subfamily in the Old World primate lineage. Results: Here we use a combination of computational and wet-bench laboratory methods to assess and catalog AluY subfamily activity level and composition in the western lowland gorilla genome (gorGor3.1). A total of 1,075 independent AluY insertions were identified and computationally divided into 10 subfamilies, with the largest number of gorilla-specific elements assigned to the canonical AluY subfamily. Conclusions: The retrotransposition activity level appears to be significantly lower than that seen in the human and chimpanzee lineages, while higher than that seen in orangutan genomes, indicative of differential Alu amplification in the western lowland gorilla lineage as compared to other Homininae.
- Mobile elements