Long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons and DNA transposons are transposable elements (TEs) that perform cleavage and transfer at precise DNA positions. Here, we present statistical analyses of sequences found at the termini of precise TEs in the human genome. The results show that the terminal di- and trinucleotides of these TEs are highly conserved. 5′TG...CA3′ occurs most frequently at the termini of LTR retrotransposons, while 5′CAG...CTG3′ occurs most frequently in DNA transposons. Interestingly, these sequences are the most flexible base pair steps in DNA. Both the sequence preference and the degree of conservation of each position within the human LTR dinucleotide termini are remarkably similar to those experimentally demonstrated in transposable phage Mu. We discuss the significance of these observations and their implication for the function of terminal residues in the transposition of precise TEs.
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