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Elife. 2013 Jun 18;2:e00668. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00668.

The autoregulation of a eukaryotic DNA transposon.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Sciences , University of Nottingham , Nottingham , United Kingdom.


How do DNA transposons live in harmony with their hosts? Bacteria provide the only documented mechanisms for autoregulation, but these are incompatible with eukaryotic cell biology. Here we show that autoregulation of Hsmar1 operates during assembly of the transpososome and arises from the multimeric state of the transposase, mediated by a competition for binding sites. We explore the dynamics of a genomic invasion using a computer model, supported by in vitro and in vivo experiments, and show that amplification accelerates at first but then achieves a constant rate. The rate is proportional to the genome size and inversely proportional to transposase expression and its affinity for the transposon ends. Mariner transposons may therefore resist post-transcriptional silencing. Because regulation is an emergent property of the reaction it is resistant to selfish exploitation. The behavior of distantly related eukaryotic transposons is consistent with the same mechanism, which may therefore be widely applicable. DOI:


DNA recombination; Host–parasite interactions; Human; allosteric; allostery; evolution; systems modeling

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