Eukaryotic genomes contain a large number of transposable elements, part of which are still active and able to transpose in the host genome. Mobile element activation is repressed to avoid deleterious effects, such as gene mutations or chromosome rearrangements. Control of transposable elements includes a variety of mechanisms comprising silencing pathways, which are based on the production of small non-coding RNAs. Silencing can occur either through transposable element RNA degradation or through the targeting of DNA sequences by heterochromatin formation and consequent transcriptional inhibition. Since the important role of the heterochromatin silencing, the gradual loss of heterochromatin marks in constitutive heterochromatin regions during the aging process promotes derepression of transposable elements, which is considered a cause of the progressive increase in genomic instability and of the activation of inflammatory responses. This review provides an overview of the effects of heterochromatin loss on the activity of transposable elements during the aging process and the possible impact on genome function. In this context, we discuss the possible role of the nuclear lamina, a major player in heterochromatin dynamics, in the regulation of transposable element activity and potential implications in laminopathic diseases.
- DNA damage
- Sterile inflammation