Reprogramming triggers endogenous L1 and Alu retrotransposition in human induced pluripotent stem cells

Sabine Klawitter, Nina V. Fuchs, Kyle R. Upton, Martin Muñoz-Lopez, Ruchi Shukla, Jichang Wang, Marta Garcia-Cañadas, Cesar Lopez-Ruiz, Daniel J. Gerhardt, Attila Sebe, Ivana Grabundzija, Sylvia Merkert, Patricia Gerdes, J. Andres Pulgarin, Anja Bock, Ulrike Held, Anett Witthuhn, Alexandra Haase, Balázs Sarkadi, Johannes LöwerErnst J. Wolvetang, Ulrich Martin, Zoltán Ivics, Zsuzsanna Izsvák, Jose L. Garcia-Perez, Geoffrey J. Faulkner, Gerald G. Schumann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are capable of unlimited proliferation and can differentiate in vitro to generate derivatives of the three primary germ layers. Genetic and epigenetic abnormalities have been reported by Wissing and colleagues to occur during hiPSC derivation, including mobilization of engineered LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposons. However, incidence and functional impact of endogenous retrotransposition in hiPSCs are yet to be established. Here we apply retrotransposon capture sequencing to eight hiPSC lines and three human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines, revealing endogenous L1, Alu and SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) mobilization during reprogramming and pluripotent stem cell cultivation. Surprisingly, 4/7 de novo L1 insertions are full length and 6/11 retrotransposition events occurred in protein-coding genes expressed in pluripotent stem cells. We further demonstrate that an intronic L1 insertion in the CADPS2 gene is acquired during hiPSC cultivation and disrupts CADPS2 expression. These experiments elucidate endogenous retrotransposition, and its potential consequences, in hiPSCs and hESCs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10286
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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