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Keywords:

  • chromatin;
  • endogenous retrovirus;
  • genome-wide;
  • transcriptional termination;
  • transcriptome

Abstract

Endogenous retrovirsuses (ERVs) have long been known to influence gene expression in plants in important ways, but what of their roles in mammals? Our relatively sparse knowledge in that area was recently increased with the finding that ERVs can influence the expression of mammalian resident genes by disrupting transcriptional termination. For many mammalian biologists, retrotransposition is considered unimportant except when it disrupts the reading frame of a gene, but this view continues to be challenged. It has been known for some time that integration into an intron can create novel transcripts and integration upstream of a gene can alter the expression of the transcript, in many cases producing phenotypic consequences and disease. The new findings on transcriptional termination extend the opportunities for retrotransposons to play a role in human disease.