Domesticated transposable element gene products in human cancer.

University of Iowa
Mobile genetic elements 09/2013; 3(5):e26693. DOI: 10.4161/mge.26693
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The adaptation of transposable elements inserted within the genome to serve novel functions in a host cell, a process known as molecular domestication, is a widespread phenomenon in nature. Around fifty protein-coding genes in humans have arisen through this mechanism. Functional characterization of these domesticated genes has revealed involvement in a multitude of diverse cellular processes. Some of these functions are related to cellular activities and pathways known to be involved in cancer development. In this mini-review we discuss such roles of domesticated genes that may be aberrantly regulated in human cancer, as well as studies that have identified disrupted expression in tumors. We also describe studies that have provided definitive experimental evidence for transposable element-derived gene products in promoting tumorigenesis.

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