Peter W. Atkinson, a University of California, Riverside professor of entomology and member of the university’s Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, is part of a team that has linked the movement of small pieces of DNA, known as transposable elements, to a process called V(D)J recombination that produces the genetic diversity responsible for the production of antibodies. This will help scientists understand the mixing and matching of DNA in organisms and the role this mixing plays in healthy and diseased cells.
Nancy L. Craig from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute led the team, which published its findings in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, in a paper titled Transposition of hAT elements links transposable elements and V(D)J recombination. Also on the team were Liqin Zhou and Rupak Mitra from Johns Hopkins, and Alison Burgess Hickman and Fred Dyda from the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Md.
“These functional and comparative studies link the movement of transposable elements and V(D)J recombination. This outcome has implications for understanding transposable element movement in all organisms as well as the role that transpositional type recombination mechanisms have in chromosomal rearrangements of both healthy and diseased cells,” Atkinson said. “Of growing interest is the role that some of these rearrangements may play in the genesis of some cancers.”
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