The Genetic Engineering Process

A mind map showing the stages of genetic engineering and the reasons it is carried out.

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  • The Genetic Engineering Process
    • 1. Obtain the gene to be engineered
      • Gene can be synthesised using an automated polynucleotide sequencer
      • The gene can be cut out after being located by a probe. The process uses restriction enzymes
      • mRNA can be taken from cells where the gene is expressed and used as a template
    • 2. Place the gene in a vector
      • The gene can be sealed into a bacterial plasmid by DNA ligase
        • If plasmids are cut with the same restriction enzyme that was used to the isolate the gene, then complementary sticky ends will be formed
          • Cut plasmids are mixed with the genes to form recombinant DNA
            • Only 0.25% of the genes are taken by plasmids making the process very inefficient
      • Genes can be sealed in virus genomes or yeast cell chromosomes
    • 3. Move the gene into the recipient cell
      • Electroporation
        • A high voltage pulse is applied to disrupt the membrane
      • Microinjection
        • Injected via a very small micropipette into the host cells nucleus
      • Viral transfer
        • Uses a virus mechanism to infect cells by inserting the DNA directly
      • Liposomes
        • DNA is wrapped in fat soluble lipid molecules that can cross lipid membranes by diffusion
    • Why do we genetically engineer organisms?
      • To improve a feature of the recipient organism
        • Herbicide resistant genes to increase crop yield
        • Growth control hormones in live stock promote muscle growth
      • To synthesise useful products
        • Growing large quantities of hormones such as insulin in bacteria for human use
        • Introducing genes for beta-carotene in rice that can be turned into vitamin A in consumption
        • Inserting genes into sheep so that the produced chemical can be collected easily in the milk


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