Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Genet. 2017 Feb;18(2):71-86. doi: 10.1038/nrg.2016.139. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Regulatory activities of transposable elements: from conflicts to benefits.

Author information

Department of Human Genetics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103, USA.


Transposable elements (TEs) are a prolific source of tightly regulated, biochemically active non-coding elements, such as transcription factor-binding sites and non-coding RNAs. Many recent studies reinvigorate the idea that these elements are pervasively co-opted for the regulation of host genes. We argue that the inherent genetic properties of TEs and the conflicting relationships with their hosts facilitate their recruitment for regulatory functions in diverse genomes. We review recent findings supporting the long-standing hypothesis that the waves of TE invasions endured by organisms for eons have catalysed the evolution of gene-regulatory networks. We also discuss the challenges of dissecting and interpreting the phenotypic effect of regulatory activities encoded by TEs in health and disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center