Transposable elements propagate by inserting into new locations in the genomes of the hosts they inhabit. Their transposition might thus negatively affect the fitness of the host, suggesting the requirement for a tight control in the regulation of transposable element mobilization. The nature of this control depends on the structure of the transposable element. DNA elements encode a transposase that is necessary, and in most cases sufficient, for mobilization. In general, regulation of these elements depends on intrinsic factors with little direct input from the host. Retrotransposons require an RNA intermediate for transposition, and their frequency of mobilization is controlled at multiple steps by the host genome by regulating both their expression levels and their insertional specificity. As a result, a symbiotic relationship has developed between transposable elements and their host. Examples are now emerging showing that transposons can contribute significantly to the well being of the organisms they populate.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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