DNA transposons and the evolution of eukaryotic genomes

Annu Rev Genet. 2007;41:331-68. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.40.110405.090448.


Transposable elements are mobile genetic units that exhibit broad diversity in their structure and transposition mechanisms. Transposable elements occupy a large fraction of many eukaryotic genomes and their movement and accumulation represent a major force shaping the genes and genomes of almost all organisms. This review focuses on DNA-mediated or class 2 transposons and emphasizes how this class of elements is distinguished from other types of mobile elements in terms of their structure, amplification dynamics, and genomic effect. We provide an up-to-date outlook on the diversity and taxonomic distribution of all major types of DNA transposons in eukaryotes, including Helitrons and Mavericks. We discuss some of the evolutionary forces that influence their maintenance and diversification in various genomic environments. Finally, we highlight how the distinctive biological features of DNA transposons have contributed to shape genome architecture and led to the emergence of genetic innovations in different eukaryotic lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Genome*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA