Mobile DNA elements in the generation of diversity and complexity in the brain

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Aug;15(8):497-506. doi: 10.1038/nrn3730. Epub 2014 Jul 9.


Mobile elements are DNA sequences that can change their position (retrotranspose) within the genome. Although its biological function is largely unappreciated, DNA derived from mobile elements comprises nearly half of the human genome. It has long been thought that neuronal genomes are invariable; however, recent studies have demonstrated that mobile elements actively retrotranspose during neurogenesis, thereby creating genomic diversity between neurons. In addition, mounting data demonstrate that mobile elements are misregulated in certain neurological disorders, including Rett syndrome and schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Retroelements*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics
  • Schizophrenia / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Retroelements