Indexed on: 05 Mar '16Published on: 05 Mar '16Published in: European Journal of Human Genetics
Large deletions that are associated with insertions of Alu-derived sequence represent a rare, but potentially unique class of alterations. Whether they form by a one-step mechanism or by a primary insertion step followed by an independent secondary deletion step is not clear. We resolved two disease-associated SPAST deletions, which involve distinct exons by long range PCR. Alu-derived sequence was observed between the breakpoints in both cases. The intronic regions that represent the targets of potentially involved Alu retrotransposition events overlapped. Microsatellite- and SNP-based haplotyping indicated that both deletions originated on one and the same founder allele. Our data suggest that the deletions are best explained by two-step insertion-deletion scenarios for which a single Alu retrotransposition event represents the shared primary step. This Alu then mediated one of the deletions by non-homologous end joining and the other by non-allelic homologous recombination. Our findings thus strongly argue for temporal separation of insertion and deletion in Alu insertion-associated deletions. They also suggest that certain Alu integrations confer a general increase in local genomic instability, and that this explains why they are usually not detected during the probably short time that precedes the rearrangements they mediate.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 2 March 2016; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.20.