A transposable element (TE or transposon) is a DNA sequence that can change its position within a genome, sometimes creating or reversing mutations and altering the cell’s genome size. Transposition often results in duplication of the TE. Barbara McClintock‘s discovery of thesejumping genes earned her a Nobel Prize in 1983.
Transposable elements make up a large fraction of the C-value of eukaryotic cells. There are at least two classes of TEs: Class I TEs generally function via reverse transcription, while Class II TEs encode the protein transposase, which they require for insertion and excision, and some of these TEs also encode other proteins. It has been shown that TEs are important in genome function and evolution. In Oxytricha, which has a unique genetic system, these elements play a critical role in development. Transposons are also very useful to researchers as a means to alter DNA inside a living organism.
(From Wikipedia, June 2016)