Transposable elements (TEs) are sequences of DNA that can move or transpose themselves to new positions within the genome of a single cell. The mechanism of transposition can be either "copy and paste" or "cut and paste". Transposition can create phenotypically significant mutations and alter the cell's genome size. Barbara McClintock's discovery of these jumping genes early in her career earned her a Nobel prize in 1983.
TEs make up a large fraction of the C-value of eukaryotic cells. They are often considered "junk DNA". In Oxytricha, which has a unique genetic system, they play a critical role in its development. They are also very useful to researchers as a means to alter DNA inside a living organism.
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