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Review
, 18 (3), 343-58

Mammalian non-LTR Retrotransposons: For Better or Worse, in Sickness and in Health

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Review

Mammalian non-LTR Retrotransposons: For Better or Worse, in Sickness and in Health

Victoria P Belancio et al. Genome Res.

Abstract

Transposable elements (TEs) have shared an exceptionally long coexistence with their host organisms and have come to occupy a significant fraction of eukaryotic genomes. The bulk of the expansion occurring within mammalian genomes has arisen from the activity of type I retrotransposons, which amplify in a "copy-and-paste" fashion through an RNA intermediate. For better or worse, the sequences of these retrotransposons are now wedded to the genomes of their mammalian hosts. Although there are several reported instances of the positive contribution of mobile elements to their host genomes, these discoveries have occurred alongside growing evidence of the role of TEs in human disease and genetic instability. Here we examine, with a particular emphasis on human retrotransposon activity, several newly discovered aspects of mammalian retrotransposon biology. We consider their potential impact on host biology as well as their ultimate implications for the nature of the TE-host relationship.

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