Transposable elements in mammalian chromatin organization

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Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile DNA elements that comprise almost 50% of mammalian genomic sequence. TEs are capable of making additional copies of themselves that integrate into new positions in host genomes. This unique property has had an important impact on mammalian genome evolution and on the regulation of gene expression because TE-derived sequences can function as cis-regulatory elements such as enhancers, promoters and silencers. Now, advances in our ability to identify and characterize TEs have revealed that TE-derived sequences also regulate gene expression by both maintaining and shaping 3D genome architecture. Studies are revealing how TEs contribute raw sequence that can give rise to the structures that shape chromatin organization, and thus gene expression, allowing for species-specific genome innovation and evolutionary novelty.