Genetic Engineering

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  • Gene Engineering
    • Key Terms
      • Restriction Enzymes
        • Enzymes that cut DNA at a specific nucleotide sequence into smaller segments
      • Vectors
        • Genetic sequences derived from viruses or bacteria - used to move genes into the target cell
      • DNA Ligase
        • Anneals/joins sections of DNA together
      • Reverse Transcriptase
        • Enzyme which uses RNA as a template for forming a DNA molecule
      • Marker Gene
        • Enables the detection of a bacterium which has taken up a genetically modified plasmid
    • Uses
      • Produced a variety of drugs and hormones for medical use
      • Manipulating human genes to treat or cure genetic diseases and disorders
      • Scope of recombinant DNA technology is not restricted to the field of medicine
        • Used in agriculture
    • Recombinant DNA Technology
      • How new combinations of genetic material are produced by artificially copying a piece of DNA from one organism (donor) and joining (recombining) this copy with the circular DNA (plasmid) in a bacterium (host)
      • Locates a specific gene in a donor cell
      • Isolates the gene in a piece of donor DNA
      • Modify the donor DNA in a highly selective way
      • Transfers the modified donor DNA into host cells in such a way that the gene will be expressed strongly enough to be of practical use
    • Advantages
      • Disease could be prevented
      • Infectious diseases can be treated by implanting genes that code for anti-viral proteins specific to each antigen
      • Increases genetic diversity by producing more variant alleles
      • Animals and plants can be made to have desirable characteristics
        • E.G. Genes in trees could be manipulated to absorb more CO2
    • Disadvantages
      • Nature is an extremely complex inter-related chain consisting of many species linked to the food chain - introducing new genes may have an irreversible effect with unknown consequences
      • Borders on many moral issues that questions whether humans have to right to manipulate genes
      • Increases our reliance on pesticides that have  harmful effect on the environment
        • Resistant genes could enter other organism giving them resistance

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