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Mammalian genome innovation through transposon domestication

Abstract

Since the discovery of transposons, their sheer abundance in host genomes has puzzled many. While historically viewed as largely harmless ‘parasitic’ DNAs during evolution, transposons are not a mere record of ancient genome invasion. Instead, nearly every element of transposon biology has been integrated into host biology. Here we review how host genome sequences introduced by transposon activities provide raw material for genome innovation and document the distinct evolutionary path of each species.

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Fig. 1: Transposon domestication contributes to host biology.
Fig. 2: Transposon-derived gene regulatory elements diversify host gene isoforms and enrich expression regulation modality.
Fig. 3: Transposons confer unique modes of cis-gene regulation in host genomes.
Fig. 4: Co-option of transposon-encoded proteins contributes to new host biology.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to L. B. King for editing and proofreading this review. A.J.M. is supported by NIH (R00HD096108) and the Siebel Stem Cell Institute. T.W. is supported by NIH (R01HG007175, U24ES026699, U01CA200060, U01HG009391, U41HG010972 and U24HG012070). L.H. is a Thomas and Stacey Siebel Distinguished Chair Professor, and a Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, supported by an HHMI Faculty Scholar award, a Bakar Fellow award and NIH grants (1R01GM114414, R01CA139067, 1R21OD027053, GRANT12095758, 1R01HD106809 and R01NS120287).

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Modzelewski, A.J., Gan Chong, J., Wang, T. et al. Mammalian genome innovation through transposon domestication. Nat Cell Biol 24, 1332–1340 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41556-022-00970-4

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