Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 180–191 | Cite as

Genes Devoid of Full-Length Transposable Element Insertions are Involved in Development and in the Regulation of Transcription in Human and Closely Related Species

  • Hussein Mortada
  • Cristina Vieira
  • Emmanuelle LeratEmail author


Transposable elements (TEs) are major components of mammalian genomes, and their impact on genome evolution is now well established. In recent years several findings have shown that they are associated with the expression level and function of genes. In this study, we analyze the relationships between human genes and full-length TE copies in terms of three factors (gene function, expression level, and selective pressure). We classified human genes according to their TE density, and found that TE-free genes are involved in important functions such as development, transcription, and the regulation of transcription, whereas TE-rich genes are involved in functions such as transport and metabolism. This trend is conserved through evolution. We show that this could be explained by a stronger selection pressure acting on both the coding and non-coding regions of TE-free genes than on those of TE-rich genes. The higher level of expression found for TE-rich genes in tumor and immune system tissues suggests that TEs play an important role in gene regulation.


Transposable element Gene function Genome evolution Primates 



We would like to thank Christian Biémont for his comments and his critical reading of this manuscript, and Monika Ghosh for English correction.

Supplementary material

239_2010_9376_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1048 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hussein Mortada
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cristina Vieira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emmanuelle Lerat
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Université de LyonLyonFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie EvolutiveUniversité Claude Bernard—Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR 5558VilleurbanneFrance

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