Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany
The origin of SVA and LAVA can be traced back to a common ancestor present in the genomes of old world monkeys – SVA2. The shared 5’ Alu-like domain and the variant 3’ ends have been acquired through splicing. The evolutionary most recent addition to the family of VNTR (Variable Number of Tandem Repeats) – containing retrotransposons are human SVAs that have co-opted an exon of a host gene as their 5’ end.
Here I review current knowledge about the assembly of SVA/LAVA and their evolution in hominoid primates. Lineage- and family-specific structural differences will be discussed in the context of mobilization and host repression of expression.