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Mob Genet Elements. 2016 Nov 4;6(6):e1256852. doi: 10.1080/2159256X.2016.1256852. eCollection 2016.

The future of transposable element annotation and their classification in the light of functional genomics - what we can learn from the fables of Jean de la Fontaine?

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Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University , Pomona, CA, USA.
Physiologie de la reproduction et des Comportements, UMR INRA-CNRS 7247, PRC , Nouzilly, France.


Transposable element (TE) science has been significantly influenced by the pioneering ideas of David Finnegan near the end of the last century, as well as by the classification systems that were subsequently developed. Today, whole genome TE annotation is mostly done using tools that were developed to aid gene annotation rather than to specifically study TEs. We argue that further progress in the TE field is impeded both by current TE classification schemes and by a failure to recognize that TE biology is fundamentally different from that of multicellular organisms. Novel genome wide TE annotation methods are helping to redefine our understanding of TE sequence origins and evolution. We briefly discuss some of these new methods as well as ideas for possible alternative classification schemes. Our hope is to encourage the formation of a society to organize a larger debate on these questions and to promote the adoption of standards for annotation and an improved TE classification.


genome; mobile genetic element; ontology; repeat; taxonomy

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