Bioessays 38 (11):1158-1166 (2016)

The germ track is the cellular path by which genes are transmitted to future generations whereas somatic cells die with their body and do not leave direct descendants. Transposable elements (TEs) evolve to be silent in somatic cells but active in the germ track. Thus, the performance of most bodily functions by a sequestered soma reduces organismal costs of TEs. Flexible forms of gene regulation are permissible in the soma because of the self‐imposed silence of TEs, but strict licensing of transcription and translation is maintained in the germ track to control proliferation of TEs. Delayed zygotic genome activation (ZGA) and maternally inherited germ granules are adaptations that enhance germ‐track security. Mammalian embryos exhibit very early ZGA associated with extensive mobilization of retroelements. This window of vulnerability to retrotransposition in early embryos is an indirect consequence of evolutionary conflicts within the mammalian genome over postzygotic maternal provisioning.
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DOI 10.1002/bies.201600125
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Sameness, Novelty, and Nominal Kinds.David Haig - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (6):857-872.

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