Long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) show tissue-specific, mosaic genome and methylation-unrestricted, widespread expression of noncoding RNAs in somatic tissues of the rat.
We report strong somatic and germ line expression of LINE RNAs in eight different tissues of rat by using a novel ~2.8 kb genomic PstI-LINE DNA (P1-LINE) isolated from the rat brain. P1-LINE is present in a 93 kb LINE-SINE-cluster in sub-telomeric region of chromosome 12 (12p12) and as multiple truncated copies interspersed in all rat chromosomes. P1-LINEs occur as inverted repeats at multiple genomic loci in tissue-specific and mosaic patterns. P1-LINE RNAs are strongly expressed in brain, liver, lungs, heart, kidney, testes, spleen and thymus into large to small heterogeneous RNAs (~5.0 to 0.2 kb) in tissue-specific and dynamic patterns in individual rats. P1-LINE DNA is strongly methylated at CpG-dinucleotides in most genomic copies in all the tissues and weakly hypomethylated in few copies in some tissues. Small (700-75 nt) P1-LINE RNAs expressed in all tissues may be possible precursors for small regulatory RNAs (PIWI-interacting/piRNAs) bioinformatically derived from P1-LINE. The strong and dynamic expression of LINE RNAs from multiple chromosomal loci and the putative piRNAs in somatic tissues of rat under normal physiological conditions may define functional chromosomal domains marked by LINE RNAs as long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) unrestricted by DNA methylation. The tissue-specific, dynamic RNA expression and mosaic genomic distribution of LINEs representing a steady-state genomic flux of retrotransposon RNAs suggest for biological role of LINE RNAs as long ncRNAs and small piRNAs in mammalian tissues independent of their cellular fate for translation, reverse-transcription and retrotransposition. This may provide evolutionary advantages to LINEs and mammalian genomes.