Proteins clam up

The unusual clamshell structure of a bacterial protein involved in the insertion of so-called "jumping genes" has been revealed by scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Jumping genes move out of their usual slot in the genome and insert themselves elsewhere, researchers were already aware that the genes themselves encode the proteins that help them make the leap. The new work shows how the protein IstB bends DNA along the genome and primes it for the jumping gene to be inserted.