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Genetic Engineering Glossary
Amplification Where samples of DNA can be multiples in order to generate lots of the same DNA which can
then be further used for genetic profiling for example
Anneal Hydrogen bond formation between complementary bases when sections of single stranded
DNA or RNA join together.
Annealing seen when complementary sticky ends join and where DNA probes attach to the
complementary strand of DNA.
Bacterial Artificial A bacterial artificial chromosome is an engineered DNA molecule used to clone DNA
Chromosome (BAC) sequences in bacterial cells (for example, E. coli). Segments of an organism's DNA (100,000
to about 300,000 base pairs) can be inserted into BACs. The BACs, with their inserted DNA,
are then taken up by bacterial cells. As the bacterial cells grow and divide, they amplify the
BAC DNA, which can then be isolated and used in sequencing DNA.
Blunt Ends Is formed when DNA is cut using a restriction enzyme. The DNA is left with no overhang of
nucleotides leaving a nonspecific fragment as no recognition site. Two blunt ends can join
Clone Library When BAC's are placed into bacterial cells such as E.coli which then grow in a culture and
produce many copies of the gene. These cells are called clone libraries
Conjunction Where genetic material may be exchanged in bacteria. Copies of plasmid DNA are passed
between bacteria (sometimes between different species). Plasmids contain antibiotic
resistance so swapping of plasmid through conjunction can speed up antibiotic resistant
DNA Ligase An enzyme which catalyses a condensation reaction which joins the phosphatesugar
backbones of the DNA double helix. Used in natural DNA replication as well to seal nucleotides
DNA Primer Short, singlestranded sequences of DNA are round 1020 bases long. Needed in PCR to bind
to sections of DNA to therefore allow DNA polymerase to bind as cannot bind straight to the
single stranded DNA.
DNA Probe A short length of DNA that is labelled. For example by being radioactive or fluorescent this
binds to the complementary lengths of DNA and therefore indicates their position.
Electrophoresis A method used to separate molecules in a mixture based on their size. The method relies on
the substances having a charge. When a current is applied, the charged molecules move to
the oppositely charged electrode. The smallest molecules move fastest through the
gelbased medium and in a fixed time will move the furthest, The method is important in
separating the DNA fragments of different sizes in DNA sequencing and profiling procedures.
Genetic Engineering Branch of biotechnology characterised by the obtaining of a particular gene either by removal
from a donor organism's genome using restriction enzymes or by manufacture (usually
mRNA transcript using reverse transcriptase enzymes). Once obtained the gene is inserted
into the genome of a recipient organism often different species. The inserted gene is
transcribed into protein so giving the recipient organism the characteristic which they
previously were without. This organism is now said to be transgenic.
Gene Therapy The use of genetic technology/engineering to treat genetic disorders such as Cystic Fibrosis
and SCID. It consists of any therapeutic techniques where the functioning allele of a
particular gene us placed into an organism without the functioning alleles. Cannot treat
dominant diseases such as Huntingtons.
Genome All the genetic information in an organism or cell
Genomics Refers to the study of the whole set of genetic information ii the form of DNA base
sequences that are in organisms. The information of the sequenced genomes is placed in
public access databases.
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Germline Cells/ This involves placing the gene into embryonic cells. The technique is not currently legal and
Germline Gene is deemed unethical
Genetic markers Antibiotic resistance genes held on bacterial plasmids are used as genetic markers to identify
the bacteria which have taken up the required gene. The gene is inserted into a plasmid which
also carries a resistance to a particular antibiotic. If a bacterium can grow in a particular
antibiotic then the plasmid and therefore the gene is present in the bacterium.…read more
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Vector A carrier. In DNA technology, refers to the agent that a piece of DNA from one cell into
another e.g. a bacterial plasmid
Xenotransplantation The transplantation of cells or organs from one species into the body of an organism of
another species.…read more