Retroelements in Genome Organization

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Science  01 Nov 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5288, pp. 737-738
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5288.737


Transposons, mobile pieces of DNA, were first described in maize by B. McClintock. Now maize yields another surprise, as shown by SanMiguel et al. (p. 765) in this week's issue. One particular class of transposon, retrotransposons, is present in the maize genome in numbers so vast that it may constitute half of the plant's genome. Voytas discusses in his Perspective the implications of these findings for genome organization and the strategies that these elements might use to avoid integrating into active genes.