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Jump, Jump Around

Basic biology says that every time a cell is divided, it replicates its entire genome so both new cells have it. But some genes want more. P-elements have the ability to jump around the genome, says Not Exactly Rocket Science's Ed Yong. In a new study published in PNAS, the Carnegie Institution for Science's Allan Spradling writes that P-elements prefer to jump into DNA origins. He analyzed more than 100,000 jumps in Drosophila, and found that the P-elements go to the same places as the origin recognition complex, Yong says. Once there, the P-elements detect the presence of the ORC, and once the origin starts replicating, they're at the head of the line for replication. Then, he adds, they jump to another origin and wait to be copied again. "This could explain why the sections of animal genomes that are replicated last tend to be rife with jumping genes," Yong says. "It could also explain how these jumping genes spread so furiously."

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