Transposable genetic elements, DNA

Transposable genetic elements, DNA sequences that can replicate and insert copies of themselves at other locations within a host genome, are an abundant component in the human genome. The most abundant transposon lineage, Alu, has about 50,000 active copies, while another lineage, LINE-1, has about 100 active copies per genome (the number varies between people). Together with non-functional relics of old transposons, they account for over half of total human DNA. Sometimes called «jumping genes», transposons have played a major role in sculpting the human genome. Some of these sequences represent endogenous retroviruses, DNA copies of viral sequences that have become permanently integrated into the genome and are now passed on to succeeding generations.