Living Reference Work Entry

Molecular Life Sciences

pp 1-14

Date: Latest Version


  • Adam R. ParksAffiliated withMolecular Control and Genetics Section, Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • , Joseph E. PetersAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Cornell University Email author 


Transposons are mobile genetic elements that can move between different DNA molecules or within an individual DNA molecule. The donor and target DNA molecules do not require any sequence homology for mobilization to occur. Transposons are often characterized by the biochemical strategy used to carry out DNA breaking and joining reactions. Recombinase families include the DDE-, HUH-, DEDD-type and serine transposases. Transposons may be removed from a donor DNA entirely by being “cut out,” or they may be left in place while a copy of the element is “copied out.” During insertion, the element may be either “pasted in,” moved entirely into the recipient molecule, or they may be “copied in.” Transposons that are copied out as RNA are referred to as retrotransposons, whereas transposons that move exclusively as a DNA molecule and do not require an RNA intermediate are simply referred to as DNA transposons. The assembly and coordination of all of the components involved in transposit ...

This is an excerpt from the content