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Transposable elements (TEs) initially attracted attention because they comprise a major portion of the genomic sequences in plants and animals. TEs may jump around the genome and disrupt both coding genes as well as regulatory sequences to cause disease. Host cells have therefore evolved various epigenetic and functional RNA-mediated mechanisms to mitigate the disruption of genomic integrity by TEs. TE associated sequences therefore acquire the tendencies of attracting various epigenetic modifiers to induce epigenetic alterations that may spread to the neighboring genes. In addition to posting threats for (epi)genome integrity, emerging evidence suggested the physiological importance of endogenous TEs either as cis-acting control elements for controlling gene regulation or as TE-containing functional transcripts that modulate the transcriptome of the host cells. Recent advances in long-reads sequence analysis technologies, bioinformatics and genetic editing tools have enabled the profiling, precise annotation and functional characterization of TEs despite their challenging repetitive nature. The importance of specific TEs in preimplantation embryonic development, germ cell differentiation and meiosis, cell fate determination and in driving species specific differences in mammals will be discussed.
Hsu, P. S., Yu, S. H., Tsai, Y. T., Chang, J. Y., Tsai, L. K., Ye, C. H., … Lin, S. P. (2021, December 1). More than causing (epi)genomic instability: emerging physiological implications of transposable element modulation. Journal of Biomedical Science. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-021-00754-2