A comprehensive analysis of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)-specific LINE-1 retrotransposons

Gene. 2019 Apr 20;693:46-51. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2019.01.022. Epub 2019 Jan 26.


Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is one of the most abundant retrotransposons in the primate genomes and has contributed to their genome diversity and variations during the primate evolution. Among primate L1 subfamilies, L1Pt subfamilies include Pan troglodytes-specific L1s. L1Pt elements have been successfully expanded in the chimpanzee genome since the divergence of human and chimpanzee lineages. However, only a few full-length L1Pt copies were previously detected in the chimpanzee genome due to incomplete chimpanzee reference genome sequences at the time. In the present study, we aimed to identify chimpanzee-specific L1s using the most recent version of the chimpanzee reference genome (May 2016, panTro5). We identified a total of 3731 chimpanzee-specific L1s. This is much more than previously reported chimpanzee-specific L1 copies. Among these, 223 are full-length (>6 kb), and we annotated their subfamilies and examined their retrotransposition-competency. The result showed that there are two L1Pt subfamilies in the chimpanzee genome, and the nine structurally intact elements belong to L1Pt-1, L1Pt-2, and L1PA2 subfamilies. In addition, we found that the intact full-length L1 group showed significantly higher L1 expression level than the non-intact full-length L1 group using limited RNA-seq data. It is interesting to notice that the number of retrotransposition-competent elements is much less in the chimpanzee genome than that in the human genome. In conclusion, there is increasing evidence to indicate that chimpanzee-specific L1s have changed the chimpanzee genome, causing genomic difference from other primate genomes.

Keywords: Chimpanzee-specific; L1 elements; L1Pt; Retrotransposons.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genomics / methods
  • Long Interspersed Nucleotide Elements / genetics*
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Primates / genetics
  • Retroelements / genetics


  • Retroelements