Ten things you should know about transposable elements


Fascinating. And extremely valuable material.

I wonder: How much is this kind of genomic subject matter finding its way into high school biology books? For that matter, how much of it is reaching university Biology 102 students?


It’s been quite a while since I was in high school so I can’t really speak to what’s going on there, but I don’t recall getting much exposure to the topic of transposable elements in my intro bio courses.

Edit: I just looked at my old copy of Campbell and Reece’s Biology textbook, and there are a couple of pages on TEs. But the coverage is very minimal (at least in the edition I have).


Add the word “Top” to the beginning of this thread title and you’d have the beginnings of a very interesting David Letterman Top Ten List.

It could educate as well as entertain.

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The “Top Ten List” for those in a hurry:

  1. Transposable elements come in many different forms and shapes
  2. TEs are not distributed randomly in the genome
  3. TEs are an extensive source of mutations and genetic polymorphisms
  4. TEs are associated with genome rearrangements and unique chromosome features
  5. There is an intrinsic balance between TE expression and represssion
  6. TEs are insertional mutatagens in both germline and soma
  7. TEs can be damaging in ways that don’t involve transposition
  8. A number of key coding and non-coding RNAs are derived from TEs
    9.TEs contribute cis-regulatory DNA elements and modify transcriptional networks
  9. Analyzing TEs requires specialized tools

Really, though, the interesting stuff is in the details. The paper is highly readable and not terribly technical (IMO at least). Check it out!

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  1. “TEs” are what you get when Ken Ham tries to refute transposable elements.
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