It takes two transposons to tango: transposable-element-mediated chromosomal rearrangements

Trends Genet. 2000 Oct;16(10):461-8. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(00)02104-1.


Transposable elements (TEs) promote various chromosomal rearrangements more efficiently, and often more specifically, than other cellular processes(1-3). One explanation of such events is homologous recombination between multiple copies of a TE present in a genome. Although this does occur, strong evidence from a number of TE systems in bacteria, plants and animals suggests that another mechanism - alternative transposition - induces a large proportion of TE-associated chromosomal rearrangements. This paper reviews evidence for alternative transposition from a number of unrelated but structurally similar TEs. The similarities between alternative transposition and V(D)J recombination are also discussed, as is the use of alternative transposition as a genetic tool.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / physiology
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • VDJ Recombinases


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • VDJ Recombinases