Transposable elements, often considered to be not important for survival, significantly contribute to the evolution of transcriptomes, promoters, and proteomes. Reverse transcriptase, encoded by some transposable elements, can be used in trans
to produce a DNA copy of any RNA molecule in the cell. The retrotransposition of protein-coding genes requires the presence of reverse transcriptase, which could be delivered by either non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) or LTR transposons. The majority of these copies are in a state of “relaxed” selection and remain “dormant” because they are lacking regulatory regions; however, many become functional. In the course of evolution, they may undergo subfunctionalization, neofunctionalization, or replace their progenitors. Functional retrocopies (retrogenes) can encode proteins, novel or similar to those encoded by their progenitors, can be used as alternative exons or create chimeric transcripts, and can also be involved in transcriptional interference and participate in the epigenetic regulation of parental gene expression. They can also act in trans
as natural antisense transcripts, microRNA (miRNA) sponges, or a source of various small RNAs. Moreover, many retrocopies of protein-coding genes are linked to human diseases, especially various types of cancer.
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