Integrating transposable elements in the 3D genome

Alexandros Bousios, Hans Wilhelm Nützmann, Dorothy Buck, Davide Michieletto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Chromosome organisation is increasingly recognised as an essential component of genome regulation, cell fate and cell health. Within the realm of transposable elements (TEs) however, the spatial information of how genomes are folded is still only rarely integrated in experimental studies or accounted for in modelling. Whilst polymer physics is recognised as an important tool to understand the mechanisms of genome folding, in this commentary we discuss its potential applicability to aspects of TE biology. Based on recent works on the relationship between genome organisation and TE integration, we argue that existing polymer models may be extended to create a predictive framework for the study of TE integration patterns. We suggest that these models may offer orthogonal and generic insights into the integration profiles (or "topography") of TEs across organisms. In addition, we provide simple polymer physics arguments and preliminary molecular dynamics simulations of TEs inserting into heterogeneously flexible polymers. By considering this simple model, we show how polymer folding and local flexibility may generically affect TE integration patterns. The preliminary discussion reported in this commentary is aimed to lay the foundations for a large-scale analysis of TE integration dynamics and topography as a function of the three-dimensional host genome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalMobile DNA
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


  • cond-mat.soft
  • q-bio.GN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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