Background: The evolution of Alu elements has been ongoing in primate lineages and Alu insertion polymorphisms are widely used in phylogenetic and population genetics studies. Alu subfamilies in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri), a New World Monkey (NWM), were recently reported. Squirrel monkeys are commonly used in biomedical research and often require species identification. The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) Perform locus-specific PCR analyses on recently integrated Alu insertions in Saimiri to determine their amplification dynamics, and 2) Identify a subset of Alu insertion polymorphisms with species informative allele frequency distributions between the Saimiri sciureus and Saimiri boliviensis groups. Results: PCR analyses were performed on a DNA panel of 32 squirrel monkey individuals for 382 Alu insertion events ≤2% diverged from 46 different Alu subfamily consensus sequences, 25 Saimiri specific and 21 NWM specific Alu subfamilies. Of the 382 loci, 110 were polymorphic for presence / absence among squirrel monkey individuals, 35 elements from 14 different Saimiri specific Alu subfamilies and 75 elements from 19 different NWM specific Alu subfamilies (13 of 46 subfamilies analyzed did not contain polymorphic insertions). Of the 110 Alu insertion polymorphisms, 51 had species informative allele frequency distributions between Saimiri sciureus and Saimiri boliviensis groups. Conclusions: This study confirms the evolution of Alu subfamilies in Saimiri and provides evidence for an ongoing and prolific expansion of these elements in Saimiri with many active subfamilies concurrently propagating. The subset of polymorphic Alu insertions with species informative allele frequency distribution between Saimiri sciureus and Saimiri boliviensis will be instructive for specimen identification and conservation biology.
Batzer, Mark; Baker, Jasmine N.; Walker, Jerilyn A.; Denham, Michael W.; and Loupe, Charles D., "Recently integrated Alu insertions in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri) lineage and application for population analyses" (2018). Faculty Publications. 1.