LINE-1 retrotransposons are fast-evolving mobile genetic entities that play roles in gene regulation, pathological conditions, and evolution. Here, we show that the primate LINE-1 5'UTR contains a primate-specific open reading frame (ORF) in the antisense orientation that we named ORF0. The gene product of this ORF localizes to promyelocytic leukemia-adjacent nuclear bodies. ORF0 is present in more than 3,000 loci across human and chimpanzee genomes and has a promoter and a conserved strong Kozak sequence that supports translation. By virtue of containing two splice donor sites, ORF0 can also form fusion proteins with proximal exons. ORF0 transcripts are readily detected in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from both primate species. Capped and polyadenylated ORF0 mRNAs are present in the cytoplasm, and endogenous ORF0 peptides are identified upon proteomic analysis. Finally, ORF0 enhances LINE-1 mobility. Taken together, these results suggest a role for ORF0 in retrotransposon-mediated diversity.
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