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    LTR retrotransposons are the most abundant group of transposable elements (TEs) in plants. These elements can fall inside or close to genes, and therefore influence their expression and evolution. This review aims to examine how LTR retrotransposons, especially Ty1-copia elements, mediate gene regulation and evolution. Various stimuli, including polyploidization and biotic and abiotic elicitors, result in the transcription and movement of these retrotransposons, and can facilitate adaptation. The presence of cis-regulatory motifs in the LTRs are central to their stress-mediated responses and are shared with host stress-responsive genes, showing a complex evolutionary history in which TEs provide new regulatory units to genes. The presence of retrotransposon remnants in genes that are necessary for normal gene function, demonstrates the importance of exaptation and co-option, and is also a consequence of the abundance of these elements in plant genomes. Furthermore, insertions of LTR retrotransposons in and around genes provide potential for alternative splicing, epigenetic control, transduction, duplication and recombination. These characteristics can become an active part of the evolution of gene families as in the case of resistance genes (R-genes). The character of TEs as exclusively selfish is now being re-evaluated. Since genome-wide reprogramming via TEs is a long evolutionary process, the changes we can examine are case-specific and their fitness advantage may not be evident until TE-derived motifs and domains have been completely co-opted and fixed. Nevertheless, the presence of LTR retrotransposons inside genes and as part of gene promoter regions is consistent with their roles as engines of plant genome evolution. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Leonardo Galindo-González, Corinne Mhiri, Michael K Deyholos, Marie-Angèle Grandbastien. LTR-retrotransposons in plants: Engines of evolution. Gene. 2017 Aug 30;626:14-25

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    PMID: 28476688

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