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Transposable Genetic Elements

Transposons As Molecular Biology Tools

Transposons can be used to facilitate cloning of genes, identify regulatory elements, and produce transgenic organisms. For example, transposon tagging involves inducing transposition of a TE, allowing for disruption of a gene that generates an organism with a mutant phenotype, and is followed by molecular techniques that allow for the identification of the gene. A variation of transposon tagging (enhancer trapping) uses P elements to identify DNA sequences that regulate the expression of genes. P elements can also be used to incorporate foreign genes into fruit flies (transgenics). In addition, transposon fossils have been useful for the isolation of species-specific DNA from complex sources such as using inter-Alu PCR for the isolation of human genomic DNA sequences.

David H. Kass

and Mark A. Batzer


Batzer, Mark A., and Prescott L. Deininger. "Alu Repeats and Human Disease." Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 67, no. 3 (1999): 183-193.

Griffiths, Anthony J. F., et al. An Introduction to Genetic Analysis, 7th ed. New York:W. H. Freeman, 2000.

Kass, David H. "Impact of SINEs and LINEs on the Mammalian Genome." Current Genomics 2 (2001): 199-219.

Lander, Eric S., et. al. "Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome." Nature 409 (2001): 860-921.

Lewin, Benjamin. Genes VII. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Lodish, Harvey, et al. Molecular Cell Biology, 4th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2000.

Prak, Elaine T., and Haig H. Kazazian. "Mobile Elements and the Human Genome." National Review: Genetics 1 (2000): 134-144.

Watson, James D., et al. Recombinant DNA, 2nd ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1998.

Transposase is an enzyme that catalyzes transposition. It may be encoded in the transposon or may reside elsewhere.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4Transposable Genetic Elements - Early Evidence, Tes Across The Evolutionary Tree, Transmission Of Tes, Transposition Mechanisms, Tes And Species Evolution