An Introduction to Transposons

Transposons pic

Transposons
Image: broadinstitute.org

A longtime molecular biology and genetics researcher, Dr. Jef Boeke currently works as a professor and director at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Throughout his career, Dr. Jef Boeke has conducted a large quantity of research on mobile genetic elements, commonly referred to as transposons.

At the most basic level, a transposon is a sequence of DNA that can “jump” from one section of the genome to another. Jef Boeke’s research focuses on the study of a specific type of transposon called a retrotransposon which “jumps” by producing an RNA molecule as a template for new DNA synthesis, and then copying that RNA with an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to make a new DNA copy, which is then inserted back into the genome. Thus its life cycle can be summarized as DNA > RNA > DNA, similar to the life cycle of retroviruses like human immunodeficiency virus or HIV-1. Retrotransposons make up approximately half of the human genome and up to 90 percent of other genomes in the living world. Many transposon and retrotransposon copies are silent, in that they produce no phenotypic effect as a product of their translocation.

If a transposon lands in the middle of a gene, it can produce a mutation and have a destructive effect. However, transposons may also play a useful role. In addition to producing new combinations of nucleic acid sequences and driving genome evolution, transposons can facilitate the shuffling of exons and help repair damage to the DNA double helix.

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Nature Conservancy Welcomes Donations of Stock Holdings

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Nature Conservancy
Image: nature.org

A leading genetics researcher at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Jef Boeke philanthropically supports the efforts of the Nature Conservancy, a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting ecologically important lands and waters. Thanks to the support of donors such as Dr. Jef Boeke, the Nature Conservancy has protected thousands of miles of rivers and more than 119 million acres of land.

The Nature Conservancy welcomes contributions in many different forms, including stock holdings. After a donor transfers securities to the Nature Conservancy, the organization sells the securities and uses the proceeds from the transaction to fund its many programs. Donors receive an income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the securities sold and pay no capital gains tax on their donations. Donors also have the option of directing their contributions toward a specific program or fund.

To learn more about donating stock holdings to the Nature Conservancy, visit www.nature.org.