Rewiring of chromatin state and gene expression by transposable elements

Dev Growth Differ. 2021 May;63(4-5):262-273. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12735. Epub 2021 Jun 16.


Transposable elements form a major fraction of the genome in various eukaryotic species. Although deleterious effects of transpositions within the genome have been reported, recent findings suggest that transposable elements can function as novel regulatory elements to fine-tune gene expression. Transposable elements can impact the chromatin state through processes such as heterochromatin formation, enhancer-promoter interactions, and chromatin boundary formation, mainly because of the functions of chromatin-based pathways that regulate the expression of transposable elements via DNA methylation and repressive histone modification. Therefore, transposable elements can rewire the chromatin state and gene expression depending on their insertions. Here, we review the findings that reveal the role of transposable elements as modifiers of the chromatin state and gene expression as well as the molecular mechanisms capable of inducing these changes.

Keywords: chromatin state; enhancer; non-coding RNA; transcriptional regulation; transposable element.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin* / genetics
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Transposable Elements* / genetics
  • Eukaryota
  • Gene Expression


  • Chromatin
  • DNA Transposable Elements