Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 272-285 (April 2007) | doi:10.1038/nrg2072

Focus on: Epigenetics

Transposable elements and the epigenetic regulation of the genome

R. Keith Slotkin1 & Robert Martienssen1  About the authors


Overlapping epigenetic mechanisms have evolved in eukaryotic cells to silence the expression and mobility of transposable elements (TEs). Owing to their ability to recruit the silencing machinery, TEs have served as building blocks for epigenetic phenomena, both at the level of single genes and across larger chromosomal regions. Important progress has been made recently in understanding these silencing mechanisms. In addition, new insights have been gained into how this silencing has been co-opted to serve essential functions in 'host' cells, highlighting the importance of TEs in the epigenetic regulation of the genome.

Author affiliations

  1. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.

Correspondence to: Robert Martienssen1 Email:


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


Plant transposable elements: where genetics meets genomics

Nature Reviews Genetics Review (01 May 2002)

Transposable elements in the mammalian germline: a comfortable niche or a deadly trap?

Heredity Review

RNAi-mediated pathways in the nucleus

Nature Reviews Genetics Review (01 Jan 2005)

Endogenous small interfering RNAs in animals

Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology Progress (01 Sep 2008)

See all 28 matches for Reviews