Sex and the TEs: Transposable Elements in Sexual Development and Function in Animals.
MetadataShow full metadata
Transposable elements are endogenous DNA sequences able to integrate into and multiply within genomes. They constitute a major source of genetic innovations, as they can not only rearrange genomes but also spread ready-to-use regulatory sequences able to modify host gene expression, and even can give birth to new host genes. As their evolutionary success depends on their vertical transmission, transposable elements are intrinsically linked to reproduction. In organisms with sexual reproduction, this implies that transposable elements have to manifest their transpositional activity in germ cells or their progenitors. The control of sexual development and function can be very versatile, and several studies have demonstrated the implication of transposable elements in the evolution of sex. In this review, we report the functional and evolutionary relationships between transposable elements and sexual reproduction in animals. In particular, we highlight how transposable elements can influence expression of sexual development genes, and how, reciprocally, they are tightly controlled in gonads. We also review how transposable elements contribute to the organization, expression and evolution of sexual development genes and sex chromosomes. This underscores the intricate co-evolution between host functions and transposable elements, which regularly shift from a parasitic to a domesticated status useful to the host.