Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 65, Issue 21, pp 3329–3347 | Cite as

Endogenous retroviruses

Keeping active endogenous retroviral-like elements in check: the epigenetic perspective
  • I. A. Maksakova
  • D. L. MagerEmail author
  • D. Reiss
Multi-author Review


Endogenous retrovirus-like elements, or ERVs, are an abundant component of all eukaryotic genomes. Their transcriptional and retrotranspositional activities have great potential for deleterious effects on gene expression. Consequences of such activity may include germline mutagenesis and cancerous transformation. As a result, mammalian genomes have evolved means of counteracting ERV transcription and mobilization. In this review, we discuss epigenetic mechanisms of ERV and LTR retrotransposon control during mouse development, focusing on involvement of DNA methylation, histone modifications, small RNAs and their interaction with one another. We also address relevance of research performed in the mouse system to human and challenges associated with studying repetitive families. (Part of a Multi-author Review)


LTR retrotransposon epigenetics DNA methylation chromatin mouse development retroviral silencing RNAi 


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Copyright information

© Birkhaueser 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Terry Fox LaboratoryBritish Columbia Cancer Research CentreVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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