The premise for this unusual amalgamation of reproductive biologists, molecular geneticists and evolutionary biologists rested on the evidence-based assumption that reproductive tissues could be ideal environments for the expression and transmission of transposable elements that can move into new locations in the genome. These elements include DNA transposons and retrotransposons that, together, make up over 40% of the human genome. The testis may be a particularly good niche for their expression because of the unique dynamic of spermatogenesis, where the methylation–demethylation status of germ cell DNA is at its most plastic. Hence windows of opportunity can arise that may release transposable elements from the tight regulatory control of expression imposed on them by bulk DNA methylation. As the testis is where most mutations become embedded in the germline, the meeting included a number of keynote presentations that aimed to examine the potential for transposable elements to heritably alter the genome and effect variation independently of the usual Mendelian mechanisms. In essence, could the testis be one of the favoured sites where genomic plasticity makes its mark?
Conference Article| May 22 2007
The Testis as a Conduit for Genomic Plasticity: an advanced interdisciplinary workshop
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D. Miller, M. Brinkworth, D. Iles; The Testis as a Conduit for Genomic Plasticity: an advanced interdisciplinary workshop. Biochem Soc Trans 1 June 2007; 35 (3): 605–608. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST0350605
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