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Trends Genet. 2011 Jan;27(1):23-31. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.10.003. Epub 2010 Nov 11.

Evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements in a small RNA world.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Transposable elements (TEs) are selfish elements that cause harmful mutations, contribute to the structure of regulatory networks and shape the architecture of genomes. Natural selection against their harmful effects has long been considered the dominant force limiting their spread. It is now clear that a genome defense system of RNA-mediated silencing also plays a crucial role in limiting TE proliferation. A full understanding of TE evolutionary dynamics must consider how these forces jointly determine their proliferation within genomes. Here I consider these forces from two perspectives - dynamics within populations and evolutionary games within the germline. The analysis of TE dynamics from these two perspectives promises to provide new insight into their role in evolution.

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