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REVIEW: The Role of Transposable Elements in Emergence of Metazoa

R. N. Mustafin1* and E. K. Khusnutdinova1,2

1Bashkir State University, 450076 Ufa, Russia; E-mail: ruji79@mail.ru

2Institute of Biochemistry and Genetics, Ufa Research Center, 450054 Ufa, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received September 12, 2017; Revision received October 23, 2017
Systems initially emerged for protecting genomes against insertions of transposable elements and represented by mechanisms of splicing regulation, RNA-interference, and epigenetic factors have played a key role in the evolution of animals. Many studies have shown inherited transpositions of mobile elements in embryogenesis and preservation of their activities in certain tissues of adult organisms. It was supposed that on the emergence of Metazoa the self-regulation mechanisms of transposons related with the gene networks controlling their activity could be involved in intercellular cell coordination in the cascade of successive divisions with differentiated gene expression for generation of tissues and organs. It was supposed that during evolution species-specific features of transposons in the genomes of eukaryotes could form the basis for creation of dynamically related complexes of systems for epigenetic regulation of gene expression. These complexes could be produced due to the influence of noncoding transposon-derived RNAs on DNA methylation, histone modifications, and processing of alternative splicing variants, whereas the mobile elements themselves could be directly involved in the regulation of gene expression in cis and in trans. Transposons are widely distributed in the genomes of eukaryotes; therefore, their activation can change the expression of specific genes. In turn, this can play an important role in cell differentiation during ontogenesis. It is supposed that transposons can form a species-specific pattern for control of gene expression, and that some variants of this pattern can be favorable for adaptation. The presented data indicate the possible influence of transposons in karyotype formation. It is supposed that transposon localization relative to one another and to protein-coding genes can influence the species-specific epigenetic regulation of ontogenesis.
KEY WORDS: alternative splicing, differentiation, noncoding RNAs, ontogenesis, RNA interference, transposons, evolution

DOI: 10.1134/S000629791803001X