Exploring the read-write genome: mobile DNA and mammalian adaptation

2016-09-07T11:08:37Z (GMT) by James A. Shapiro
<p>The read–write genome idea predicts that mobile DNA elements will act in evolution to generate adaptive changes in organismal DNA. This prediction was examined in the context of mammalian adaptations involving regulatory non-coding RNAs, viviparous reproduction, early embryonic and stem cell development, the nervous system, and innate immunity. The evidence shows that mobile elements have played specific and sometimes major roles in mammalian adaptive evolution by generating regulatory sites in the DNA and providing interaction motifs in non-coding RNA. Endogenous retroviruses and retrotransposons have been the predominant mobile elements in mammalian adaptive evolution, with the notable exception of bats, where DNA transposons are the major agents of RW genome inscriptions. A few examples of independent but convergent exaptation of mobile DNA elements for similar regulatory rewiring functions are noted.</p>