Living Reference Work Entry

Molecular Life Sciences

pp 1-10

Date: Latest Version

Target-Primed Mobilization Mechanisms

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


Target-primed reverse transcription


Some genetic elements utilize a free 3′ OH at a new genetic location to prime DNA synthesis, resulting in a copy of the element in the target DNA. In a simple example of this mechanism, homing endonucleases are encoded within mobile elements, which are used to create a double-strand DNA break(s) in a target DNA molecule. By creating a double-strand DNA break(s), the host genome is activated for homologous recombination, and the mobile element is copied into that DNA site; the 3′ ends from one of the broken DNA are used to prime synthesis of the element. Other mobile elements use a process termed target-primed reverse transcription to move via an RNA intermediate. Following transcription of the DNA element, the RNA copy is reverse transcribed into a new DNA site, using a nick in the DNA at that site to prime reverse transcription. There are two major classes of elements that move by a target-primed reverse transcription mechanism, the n ...

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