Spatial distribution and clustering of repetitive elements are extensively studied during the last years, as well as their colocalization with other genomic components. Here we investigate the large-scale features of Alu and LINE1 spatial arrangement in the human genome by studying the size distribution of interrepeat distances. In most cases, we have found power-law size distributions extending in several orders of magnitude. We have also studied the correlations of the extent of the power law (linear region in double-logarithmic scale) and of the corresponding exponent (slope) with other genomic properties. A model has been formulated to explain the formation of the observed power laws. According to the model, 2 kinds of events occur repetitively in evolutionary time: random insertion of several types of intruding sequences and occasional loss of repeats belonging to the initial population due to "elimination" events. This simple mechanism is shown to reproduce the observed power-law size distributions and is compatible with our present knowledge on the dynamics of repeat proliferation in the genome.
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