Mobile DNA elements help shape human genomes
“Jumping genes,” pieces of DNA that replicate and insert themselves into a host’s genome, have been actively shaping human and other primate evolution, researchers said February 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Mark Batzer, a computational biologist at
Batzer found 706 places where transposable elements had stuffed extra DNA into Venter’s genome. At the same time, recombination between the mobile elements cut 140 chunks out of Venter’s genetic instruction manual.
The finding indicates that transposable elements are unexpectedly potent contributors to human genetic diversity, Batzer says.
“We’re finding more and more variability than we would have predicted,” he says.