Dynamic interactions between transposable elements and their hosts

Nat Rev Genet. 2011 Aug 18;12(9):615-27. doi: 10.1038/nrg3030.


Transposable elements (TEs) have a unique ability to mobilize to new genomic locations, and the major advance of second-generation DNA sequencing has provided insights into the dynamic relationship between TEs and their hosts. It now is clear that TEs have adopted diverse strategies - such as specific integration sites or patterns of activity - to thrive in host environments that are replete with mechanisms, such as small RNAs or epigenetic marks, that combat TE amplification. Emerging evidence suggests that TE mobilization might sometimes benefit host genomes by enhancing genetic diversity, although TEs are also implicated in diseases such as cancer. Here, we discuss recent findings about how, where and when TEs insert in diverse organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Human
  • Genome, Plant
  • Heterochromatin / genetics
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Heterochromatin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering