Integration site selection by retroviruses and transposable elements in eukaryotes.

Transposable elements and retroviruses are found in most genomes, can be pathogenic and are widely used as gene-delivery and functional genomics tools. Exploring whether these genetic elements target specific genomic sites for integration and how this preference is achieved is crucial to our understanding of genome evolution, somatic genome plasticity in cancer and ageing, host-parasite interactions and genome engineering applications. High-throughput profiling of integration sites by next-generation sequencing, combined with large-scale genomic data mining and cellular or biochemical approaches, has revealed that the insertions are usually non-random. The DNA sequence, chromatin and nuclear context, and cellular proteins cooperate in guiding integration in eukaryotic genomes, leading to a remarkable diversity of insertion site distribution and evolutionary strategies.

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