Mobile elements inserted in the distant past have taken on important functions

Gene. 1997 Dec 31;205(1-2):177-82. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(97)00399-5.


Current evidence on the long-term evolutionary effect of insertion of sequence elements is reviewed. There are three criteria for inclusion of an example: (i) the element was inserted far in the past and thus the event is not a transient mutation; (ii) the element is a member of a large group of similar sequences; (iii) the element now serves a useful function. There are 21 examples from Drosophila, sea urchin, human and mouse genomes that meet these criteria. Taken together, these examples show that the insertion of sequence elements in the genome has been a significant source of regulatory variation in evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Retroelements
  • Retroviridae / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Retroelements