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      Birth, School, Work, Death, and Resurrection: The Life Stages and Dynamics of Transposable Element Proliferation

      Genes

      MDPI

      transposable element, horizontal transfer, arms race, LINE-1, Alu, hobo, I element

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          Abstract

          Transposable elements (TEs) can be maintained in sexually reproducing species even if they are harmful. However, the evolutionary strategies that TEs employ during proliferation can modulate their impact. In this review, I outline the different life stages of a TE lineage, from birth to proliferation to extinction. Through their interactions with the host, TEs can exploit diverse strategies that range from long-term coexistence to recurrent movement across species boundaries by horizontal transfer. TEs can also engage in a poorly understood phenomenon of TE resurrection, where TE lineages can apparently go extinct, only to proliferate again. By determining how this is possible, we may obtain new insights into the evolutionary dynamics of TEs and how they shape the genomes of their hosts.

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          Most cited references 80

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          The evolutionary dynamics of repetitive DNA in eukaryotes.

          Repetitive DNA sequences form a large portion of the genomes of eukaryotes. The 'selfish DNA' hypothesis proposes that they are maintained by their ability to replicate within the genome. The behaviour of repetitive sequences can result in mutations that cause genetic diseases, and confer significant fitness losses on the organism. Features of the organization of repetitive sequences in eukaryotic genomes, and their distribution in natural populations, reflect the evolutionary forces acting on selfish DNA.
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            The genome of the Western clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis.

            The western clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis is an important model for vertebrate development that combines experimental advantages of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis with more tractable genetics. Here we present a draft genome sequence assembly of X. tropicalis. This genome encodes more than 20,000 protein-coding genes, including orthologs of at least 1700 human disease genes. Over 1 million expressed sequence tags validated the annotation. More than one-third of the genome consists of transposable elements, with unusually prevalent DNA transposons. Like that of other tetrapods, the genome of X. tropicalis contains gene deserts enriched for conserved noncoding elements. The genome exhibits substantial shared synteny with human and chicken over major parts of large chromosomes, broken by lineage-specific chromosome fusions and fissions, mainly in the mammalian lineage.
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              An epigenetic role for maternally inherited piRNAs in transposon silencing.

              In plants and mammals, small RNAs indirectly mediate epigenetic inheritance by specifying cytosine methylation. We found that small RNAs themselves serve as vectors for epigenetic information. Crosses between Drosophila strains that differ in the presence of a particular transposon can produce sterile progeny, a phenomenon called hybrid dysgenesis. This phenotype manifests itself only if the transposon is paternally inherited, suggesting maternal transmission of a factor that maintains fertility. In both P- and I-element-mediated hybrid dysgenesis models, daughters show a markedly different content of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) targeting each element, depending on their parents of origin. Such differences persist from fertilization through adulthood. This indicates that maternally deposited piRNAs are important for mounting an effective silencing response and that a lack of maternal piRNA inheritance underlies hybrid dysgenesis.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Genes (Basel)
                Genes (Basel)
                genes
                Genes
                MDPI
                2073-4425
                03 May 2019
                May 2019
                : 10
                : 5
                Affiliations
                Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66049, USA; jblumens@ 123456ku.edu
                Article
                genes-10-00336
                10.3390/genes10050336
                6562965
                31058854
                © 2019 by the author.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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