noun, plural: sticky ends
(molecular biology) A fragment of DNA (often produced by a staggered cut on the DNA using restriction enzymes) in which the terminal portion has a stretch of unpaired nucleotides, and the strands are not of the same length.
The ends of the DNA are sticky because it can easily match up with a complementary overhang.
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, cohesive end.
Compare: blunt end.
See also: restriction enzyme, overhang (molecular biology).