This book benefited tremendously from the input, support, and feedback of many
people, and we greatly appreciate their time and efforts. Armando Carbonell of
the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy suggested that we write the book, secured
support from the Lincoln Institute, and was deeply helpful at every stage of the
book’s development. Ann LeRoyer and Lisa Cloutier of the Lincoln Institute provided
thoughtful suggestions and were especially helpful in bringing the book to
Although DNA from any two people is more alike than different, many
chromosome regions exhibit sequence differences between individuals.
Such variable sequences are termed “polymorphic” (meaning many forms)
and are used in the study of human evolution, as well as for disease and
identity testing. Many polymorphisms are located in the estimated 98% of
the human genome that does not encode protein.
This experiment examines a polymorphism in the human genome that is
caused by the insertion of an Alu transposon, or transposable element.
Zip Zip My Brain Harts is the result of collaboration between Buckland (a photographer) and HSRC researchers concerned with disability issues. Angie Buckland’s remarkable photographs, interspersed with challenging text, are a unique expression of the fullness of human experience, with all its joy, pain and confusion.
Alu transposons are found only in primate genomes and have
accumulated in large numbers since primates diverged from other
mammals. Human chromosomes contain more than one million Alu
copies, equaling about 10% of the genome by mass. This accumulation
was made possible by a transposition mechanism that reverse transcribes
Alu mRNAs into mobile DNA copies. Another transposon, the long
interspersed element (LINE) L1, supplies a specialized reverse
transcriptase enzyme needed for Alu to jump. Hence, Alu and L1 exist in a
sort of molecular symbiosis.