UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Transposable elements in the mammalian embryo: pioneers surviving through stealth and service Gerdes, Patricia; Richardson, Sandra R; Mager, Dixie L; Faulkner, Geoffrey J


Transposable elements (TEs) are notable drivers of genetic innovation. Over evolutionary time, TE insertions can supply new promoter, enhancer, and insulator elements to protein-coding genes and establish novel, species-specific gene regulatory networks. Conversely, ongoing TE-driven insertional mutagenesis, nonhomologous recombination, and other potentially deleterious processes can cause sporadic disease by disrupting genome integrity or inducing abrupt gene expression changes. Here, we discuss recent evidence suggesting that TEs may contribute regulatory innovation to mammalian embryonic and pluripotent states as a means to ward off complete repression by their host genome.

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