The role of LTR retrotransposons in plant genetic engineering: how to control their transposition in the genome

Muthusamy Ramakrishnan, Pradeep K Papolu, Sileesh Mullasseri, Mingbing Zhou, Qiang Wei , Anket Sharma, Zishan Ahmad, Viswanathan Satheesh, Ruslan Kalendar, Qiang Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons are very similar to retroviruses but do not have the property of being infectious. While spreading between its host cells, a retrovirus inserts a DNA copy of its genome into the cells. The ability of retroviruses to cause infection with genome integration allows genes to be delivered to cells and tissues. Retrovirus vectors are, however, only specific to animals and insects, and, thus, are not relevant to plant genetic engineering. However, the similarity of LTR retrotransposons to retroviruses is an opportunity to explore the former as a tool for genetic engineering. Although recent long-read sequencing technologies have advanced the knowledge about transposable elements (TEs), the integration of TEs is still unable either to control them or to direct them to specific genomic locations. The use of existing intragenic elements to achieve the desired genome composition is better than using artificial constructs like vectors, but it is not yet clear how to control the process. Moreover, most LTR retrotransposons are inactive and unable to produce complete proteins. They are also highly mutable. In addition, it is impossible to find a full active copy of a LTR retrotransposon out of thousands of its own copies. Theoretically, if these elements were directly controlled and turned on or off using certain epigenetic mechanisms (inducing by stress or infection), LTR retrotransposons could be a great opportunity to develop a genetic engineering tool using intragenic elements in the plant genome. In this review, the recent developments in uncovering the nature of LTR retrotransposons and the possibility of using these intragenic elements as a tool for plant genetic engineering are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3–15
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Cell Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 19 2023


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