Sleeping Beauty (SB) is a transposon system that has been widely used as a genetic engineering tool. Central to the development of any transposon as a research tool is the ability to integrate a foreign piece of DNA into the cellular genome. Driven by the need for efficient transposon-based gene vector systems, extensive studies have largely elucidated the molecular actors and actions taking place during SB transposition. Close transposon relatives and other recombination enzymes, including retroviral integrases, have served as useful models to infer functional information relevant to SB. Recently obtained structural data on the SB transposase enable a direct insight into the workings of this enzyme. These efforts cumulatively allowed the development of novel variants of SB that offer advanced possibilities for genetic engineering due to their hyperactivity, integration deficiency, or targeting capacity. However, many aspects of the process of transposition remain poorly understood and require further investigation. We anticipate that continued investigations into the structure-function relationships of SB transposition will enable the development of new generations of transposition-based vector systems, thereby facilitating the use of SB in preclinical studies and clinical trials.
Keywords: DNA binding; DNA recombination; DNA repair; crystal structure; excision; integration; strand transfer; synaptic complex; transposase; transposon.