Chapter 39 : Transposon

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The transposon superfamily is a relatively recently recognized transposon superfamily. The original transposon was isolated from the genome of the cabbage looper moth, in the 1980s. However, the second member of the -like element superfamily was not identified until 2000. It was not described as a transposon superfamily in the previous edition of . In the last decade or so, a number of sequenced genomes have revealed that -like elements are actually widespread DNA transposons. Active copies of the transposon have also been identified from another moth species, from frogs, and for the first time, from a mammal. Moreover, because the transposon has a broad host spectrum from yeast to mammals, this mobile element has been widely used for a variety of applications in a diverse range of organisms. In this chapter, we will describe the discovery and diversity of the transposon, its mechanism of transposition, and its application as a genetic tool. We will also provide two examples of genetic screening that the transposon has enabled.

Citation: Yusa K. 2015. Transposon, p 875-892. In Craig N, Chandler M, Gellert M, Lambowitz A, Rice P, Sandmeyer S (ed), Mobile DNA III. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0028-2014
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Figure 1

Structure of the transposon (GenBank accession number J04364.2). TIR, terminal inverted repeat. The minimum TIR sequences are based on ref. ( ).

Citation: Yusa K. 2015. Transposon, p 875-892. In Craig N, Chandler M, Gellert M, Lambowitz A, Rice P, Sandmeyer S (ed), Mobile DNA III. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0028-2014
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Figure 2

The chemical steps of transposition. Black and grey arrowheads indicate positions of nicks or sites where 3′ OH groups attack, respectively. Modified from ref. ( ).

Citation: Yusa K. 2015. Transposon, p 875-892. In Craig N, Chandler M, Gellert M, Lambowitz A, Rice P, Sandmeyer S (ed), Mobile DNA III. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0028-2014
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Figure 3

Comparison of target site joining and repair in (left) and (right). Grey arrowheads indicate sites where 3′ OH groups attack. Modified from ref. ( ).

Citation: Yusa K. 2015. Transposon, p 875-892. In Craig N, Chandler M, Gellert M, Lambowitz A, Rice P, Sandmeyer S (ed), Mobile DNA III. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0028-2014
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Figure 4

Transposon-mediated cancer gene discovery in mice. (A) Commonly used genetic elements. TIR, terminal inverted repeat; SA, splice acceptor site; pA, polyadenylation signal sequence; SD, splice donor site. (B) In gene activation, a strong constitutive promoter ectopically expresses or overexpresses a trapped gene. The transposon carries two splice acceptor sites in both directions; the trapped genes will be inactivated in spite of the transposon orientation relative to the gene.

Citation: Yusa K. 2015. Transposon, p 875-892. In Craig N, Chandler M, Gellert M, Lambowitz A, Rice P, Sandmeyer S (ed), Mobile DNA III. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0028-2014
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