The impact of transposable elements on mammalian development

Jose L Garcia-Perez, Thomas J Widmann, Ian R Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite often being classified as selfish or junk DNA, transposable elements (TEs) are a group of abundant genetic sequences that have a significant impact on mammalian development and genome regulation. In recent years, our understanding of how pre-existing TEs affect genome architecture, gene regulatory networks and protein function during mammalian embryogenesis has dramatically expanded. In addition, the mobilization of active TEs in selected cell types has been shown to generate genetic variation during development and in fully differentiated tissues. Importantly, the ongoing domestication and evolution of TEs appears to provide a rich source of regulatory elements, functional modules and genetic variation that fuels the evolution of mammalian developmental processes. Here, we review the functional impact that TEs exert on mammalian developmental processes and discuss how the somatic activity of TEs can influence gene regulatory networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4101-4114
Number of pages14
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2016


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