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Cell. 2008 Oct 3;135(1):23-35. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.09.022.

Retrotransposons revisited: the restraint and rehabilitation of parasites.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 415 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Retrotransposons, mainly LINEs, SINEs, and endogenous retroviruses, make up roughly 40% of the mammalian genome and have played an important role in genome evolution. Their prevalence in genomes reflects a delicate balance between their further expansion and the restraint imposed by the host. In any human genome only a small number of LINE1s (L1s) are active, moving their own and SINE sequences into new genomic locations and occasionally causing disease. Recent insights and new technologies promise answers to fundamental questions about the biology of transposable elements.

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