Related genomes tend to be colonized by the same or similar repetitive sequence elements. Analysis of these elements provides useful taxonomic information. We have sequenced Alu repeats from tarsier and compared them with those from strepsirhine prosimians (lemurs, sifaka, and galago) and the human genome. Tarsier elements cluster with Alu subfamilies from the human lineage. The oldest subfamily in tarsier and the most abundant human subfamilies share an RNA secondary structure motif which is absent both in the earliest dimeric Alu Jo and in the strepsirhine elements. These findings are consistent with the view that tarsiers form a sister clade with anthropoides rather than with other prosimians. Alu repeats in tarsier genome are relatively old, which indicates a dramatic slowdown or even an arrest of these elements' amplification about 20 Myr ago.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.