Transposable Elements Re-Wire and Fine-Tune the Transcriptome
What good are transposable elements (TEs)? Although their activity can be harmful to host genomes and can cause disease, they nevertheless represent an important source of genetic variation that has helped shape genomes. In this review, we examine the impact of TEs, collectively referred to as the mobilome, on the transcriptome. We explore how TEs—particularly retrotransposons—contribute to transcript diversity and consider their potential significance as a source of small RNAs that regulate host gene transcription. We also discuss a critical role for the mobilome in engineering transcriptional networks, permitting coordinated gene expression, and facilitating the evolution of novel physiological processes.