Molecular Biology

Mobile elements' joyride

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Science  27 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6362, pp. 494-495
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6362.494-g

Retrotransposons are mobile DNA elements that replicate themselves in genomes by taking full advantage of the host environment. Tiwari et al. show that they have another trick up their sleeves to ensure inheritance to the next generation. In fruit flies, retrotransposon RNAs mimic an endogenous transcript and hijack its dedicated transport machinery, which then transports them into the germ plasm of developing oocytes. Fortunately, flies express a protein called p53 that restrains retrotransposon activity. But the host genome may have also benefited from this mechanism and been able to shape its own evolution by exploiting the retrotransposons.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.036 (2017).

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