Transposable element influences on gene expression in plants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Transposable elements (TEs) comprise a major portion of many plant genomes and bursts of TE movements cause novel genomic variation within species. In order to maintain proper gene function, plant genomes have evolved a variety of mechanisms to tolerate the presence of TEs within or near genes. Here, we review our understanding of the interactions between TEs and gene expression in plants by assessing three ways that transposons can influence gene expression. First, there is growing evidence that TE insertions within introns or untranslated regions of genes are often tolerated and have minimal impact on expression level or splicing. However, there are examples in which TE insertions within genes can result in aberrant or novel transcripts. Second, TEs can provide novel alternative promoters, which can lead to new expression patterns or original coding potential of an alternate transcript. Third, TE insertions near genes can influence regulation of gene expression through a variety of mechanisms. For example, TEs may provide novel cis-acting regulatory sites behaving as enhancers or insert within existing enhancers to influence transcript production. Alternatively, TEs may change chromatin modifications in regions near genes, which in turn can influence gene expression levels. Together, the interactions of genes and TEs provide abundant evidence for the role of TEs in changing basic functions within plant genomes beyond acting as latent genomic elements or as simple insertional mutagens. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Plant Gene Regulatory Mechanisms and Networks, edited by Dr. Erich Grotewold and Dr. Nathan Springer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Transposable element
  • chromatin modifications
  • gene expression


Dive into the research topics of 'Transposable element influences on gene expression in plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this