Examining non-LTR retrotransposons in the context of the evolving primate brain

BMC Biol. 2017 Aug 11;15(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0409-z.


Researchers have long sought to understand the genetic basis of the cognitive differences between primates, with particular focus on the human brain. Although all mutational types have worked in concert with evolutionary forces to generate the current human brain, in this review we will explore the impact of mobile elements, specifically non-LTR retrotransposons. Non-LTR retrotransposons have contributed coding and regulatory sequences to the genome throughout evolution. During primate evolution there have been multiple waves of LINE retrotransposition as well as the birth of new mobile elements such as the SINEs Alu and SVA and we will explore what kinds of impacts these may have had on the evolving human brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genome*
  • Primates / genetics
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Retroelements / genetics*


  • Retroelements