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Genetics. 2005 Feb;169(2):1033-43.

The first steps of transposable elements invasion: parasitic strategy vs. genetic drift.

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  • 1Laboratoire Populations, Génétique, Evolution, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France.


Transposable elements are often considered as selfish DNA sequences able to invade the genome of their host species. Their evolutive dynamics are complex, due to the interaction between their intrinsic amplification capacity, selection at the host level, transposition regulation, and genetic drift. Here, we propose modeling the first steps of TE invasion, i.e., just after a horizontal transfer, when a single copy is present in the genome of one individual. If the element has a constant transposition rate, it will disappear in most cases: the elements with low-transposition rate are frequently lost through genetic drift, while those with high-transposition rate may amplify, leading to the sterility of their host. Elements whose transposition rate is regulated are able to successfully invade the populations, thanks to an initial transposition burst followed by a strong limitation of their activity. Self-regulation or hybrid dysgenesis may thus represent some genome-invasion parasitic strategies.

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