News FocusGenetics

Transposons Help Sculpt a Dynamic Genome

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Science  01 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5484, pp. 1455-1457
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5484.1455

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New research is showing that the mobile genetic elements called transposons cause more extensive restructuring of the genome than previously thought. Researchers have known for about 20 years that transposons can expand the genome, resulting in the repetitive DNA sequences sometimes called "junk," but the new work indicates that transposons can also contribute to substantial DNA losses. What's more, these changes can be rapid--at least on an evolutionary scale--and may help organisms adapt to their environments.