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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2002;56:263-87. Epub 2002 Jan 30.

Inteins: structure, function, and evolution.

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1
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, 75 North Eagleville Road, Storrs 06269-3044, USA. gogarten@uconn.edu

Abstract

Inteins are genetic elements that disrupt the coding sequence of genes. However, in contrast to introns, inteins are transcribed and translated together with their host protein. Inteins appear most frequently in Archaea, but they are found in organisms belonging to all three domains of life and in viral and phage proteins. Most inteins consist of two domains: One is involved in autocatalytic splicing, and the other is an endonuclease that is important in the spread of inteins. This review focuses on the evolution and technical application of inteins and only briefly summarizes recent advances in the study of the catalytic activities and structures of inteins. In particular, this review considers inteins as selfish or parasitic genetic elements, a point of view that explains many otherwise puzzling aspects of inteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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