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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2009;60:43-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092744.

Epigenetic regulation of transposable elements in plants.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Transposable elements make up a substantial proportion of most plant genomes. Because they are potentially highly mutagenic, transposons are controlled by a set of mechanisms whose function is to recognize and epigenetically silence them. Under most circumstances this process is highly efficient, and the vast majority of transposons are inactive. Nevertheless, transposons are activated by a variety of conditions likely to be encountered by natural populations, and even closely related species can have dramatic differences in transposon copy number. Transposon silencing has proved to be closely related to other epigenetic phenomena, and transposons are known to contribute directly and indirectly to regulation of host genes. Together, these observations suggest that naturally occurring changes in transposon activity may have had an important impact on the causes and consequences of epigenetic silencing in plants.

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