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Protein Cell. 2013 Jul;4(7):493-501. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3037-6. Epub 2013 Jun 23.

Co-evolution of plant LTR-retrotransposons and their host genomes.

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Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Transposable elements (TEs), particularly, long terminal repeat retrotransposons (LTR-RTs), are the most abundant DNA components in all plant species that have been investigated, and are largely responsible for plant genome size variation. Although plant genomes have experienced periodic proliferation and/or recent burst of LTR-retrotransposons, the majority of LTR-RTs are inactivated by DNA methylation and small RNA-mediated silencing mechanisms, and/or were deleted/truncated by unequal homologous recombination and illegitimate recombination, as suppression mechanisms that counteract genome expansion caused by LTR-RT amplification. LTR-RT DNA is generally enriched in pericentromeric regions of the host genomes, which appears to be the outcomes of preferential insertions of LTR-RTs in these regions and low effectiveness of selection that purges LTR-RT DNA from these regions relative to chromosomal arms. Potential functions of various TEs in their host genomes remain blurry; nevertheless, LTR-RTs have been recognized to play important roles in maintaining chromatin structures and centromere functions and regulation of gene expressions in their host genomes.

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