noun, plural: cohesive ends
(molecular biology) A fragment of DNA (often produced by a staggered cut on the DNA using restriction enzymes) in which the strands are of unequal length, and an end that is cohesive due to an overhang or a stretch of unpaired nucleotides that easily matches up with another overhang in the complementary region.
For example, these two sticky ends can be joined together since they can form complementary base pairs in the overhang region:
5′-ATCTGACT ——+ GATGCGTATGCT-3′
Synonym: DNA end, sticky end.
Compare: blunt end.
See also: restriction enzyme, overhang (molecular biology).