We have found a 2 kilobase insertion containing a rearranged L1 element in the dystrophin gene of a muscular dystrophy patient. We cloned the precursor of this insertion, the second known active human L1 element. The locus, LRE2, has one allele derived from the patient which matches the insertion sequence exactly. LRE2 has a perfect 13-15 bp target site duplication, two open reading frames, and an unusual 21 bp truncation of the 5' end, suggesting that a slightly truncated element can still retrotranspose. It differs from LRE1 by ~0.7%. There is an L1 element at LRE2 on ~66% of human chromosomes 1q, and the element is absent from chimpanzee and gorilla genomes. These data demonstrate that multiple active L1 elements exist in the human genome, and that a readthrough transcript of an active element is capable of retrotransposition.
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