Homing endonucleases residing within inteins: Evolutionary puzzles awaiting genetic solutions

Adi Barzel, Adit Naor, Eyal Privman, Martin Kupiec, Uri Gophna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Inteins are selfish genetic elements that disrupt the sequence of protein-coding genes and are excised post-translationally. Most inteins also contain a HEN (homing endonuclease) domain, which is important for their horizontal transmission. The present review focuses on the evolution of inteins and their nested HENs, and highlights several unsolved questions that could benefit from molecular genetic approaches. Such approaches can be well carried out in halophilic archaea, which are naturally intein-rich and have highly developed genetic tools for their study. In particular, the fitness effects of habouring an intein/HEN can be tested in direct competition assays, providing additional insights that will improve current evolutionary models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-173
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Archaeon
  • Endonuclease
  • Halophile
  • Homing endonuclease (HEN)
  • Intein


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