Transposable elements and the epigenetic regulation of the genome

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Apr;8(4):272-85. doi: 10.1038/nrg2072.


Overlapping epigenetic mechanisms have evolved in eukaryotic cells to silence the expression and mobility of transposable elements (TEs). Owing to their ability to recruit the silencing machinery, TEs have served as building blocks for epigenetic phenomena, both at the level of single genes and across larger chromosomal regions. Important progress has been made recently in understanding these silencing mechanisms. In addition, new insights have been gained into how this silencing has been co-opted to serve essential functions in 'host' cells, highlighting the importance of TEs in the epigenetic regulation of the genome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Centromere / genetics
  • Centromere / metabolism
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genome
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • DNA Transposable Elements