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WHAT IS GENETIC ENGINEERING?

C.T. HEDREYDA

No. 4

Genetic engineering or genetic manipulation describes the techniques of


a.) taking a gene from the cell, inserting the gene into another fragment of
DNA called cloning vector, and transferring the vector plus insert into
another cell through a process called transformation, or
b.) taking a gene from one cell, making some changes in the genes, and
putting
the altered genes back into the original cell. The objective of the genetic
engineering procedure is to possibly produce an improved cell that could
synthesize a needed chemical, or carry out other useful processes, or give
the cell a desirable characteristic that it did not posses originally.

BENEFITS FROM GENETIC ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


Each living cell contains genes that determine what useful products the cell can
synthesize. Scientists can take a specific gene responsible for the synthesis of a known
protein product from a plant or animal cell and transfer them to a microorganism such as
bacterium and yeast. Since these microorganisms grow easily in large quantities, there
will be a lot of cells to produce the new protein product and consequently a lot of the
product.

Another benefit from genetic engineering is useful to plant and animal breeders.
Scientists can take a desirable gene from one plant, animal, or microorganism. The gene
could then be incorporated into an unrelated species which is usually not possible in
normal breeding. This technique could allow a wider range of traits to be incorporated
more quickly and more reliably into target species than possible with conventional
methods.

Scientists have used genetic engineering to produce the following:

 Human products such as insulin, human growth hormone, interferons


 New kinds of of antibiotics
 Improved vaccines against animal diseases
 Plants with resistance to insect pests, herbicide, and viral diseases
 Plants with improved nutritional qualities, longer shelf life, and increased yields

THE GENETIC MATERIAL AND THE GENETIC CODE


The genetic material in every living cell is the DNA molecule which is a long double-
stranded molecule wound in a helix (Fig. 1). The DNA molecule contains subunits called
nucleotides. Each nucleotide comprises a sugar component (deoxyribose), a phosphate
component, and one of four different bases – Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Thymine (T), and
Cytosine (C).The two strands of nucleotides are held together by the bonds between bases
on opposite strands and the entire structure is like a ladder. A gene is a segment of the
DNA strand which contains the code for a particular protein. The characteristics of a cell
and the organism as a whole (phenotype ) depend on what proteins the cell can produce.
Since all the information that determine what and how many proteins a cell can
synthesize depends on what is in the genetic material (DNA), the phenotype of a cell and
the entire organism depends on its genes or DNA. This is embodied in the Central Dogma
of Molecular Biology (Fig. 1).

DNA P
T H
rRNA R E
A or N
I O
mRNA PROTEIN T T
S Y
P
tRNA E

REPLICATION TRANSCRIPTION TRANSLATION

REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION

FIG.1 THE CENTRAL DOGMA OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

RECOMBINANT DNA TECHNOLOGY


Recombinant DNA technology, also called gene cloning, or molecular cloning,
describes a number of experimental procedures leading to the transfer of segments of
genes (or DNA and the genetic information they carry) from one organism to another. A
recombinant DNA experiment usually follows these steps:
RECOMBINANT DNA TECHNOLOGY:PRODUCING A
GENETICALLY MODIFIED BACTERIUM
 DNA from a donor organism is extracted

DNA from donor


organism  DNA is cut or digested with restriction
enzymes, enzymes that were disovered to cut
DNA at sequence-specific sites

 A segment of the cut DNA is joined (or ligated) to


another piece of DNA called cloning vector
using and enzyme ligase. The cloning vector-
insert DNA construct is called a recombinant
DNA.

 The recombinant DNA may be introduced into a


bacterial host cell through a process called
transformation.

LIGASE
 The host cells that take up the recombinant DNA
are called transformed cells or recombinant
bacteria.

Recombinant DNA
Bacterial host cell Recombinant bacterium new protein product

 If required, the DNA construct could be prepared


in such a way that the protein product encoded by
the cloned gene or the insert is produced by the
host cell.
PRODUCTION OF TRANSGENIC PLANT

PRODUCTION OF TRANSGENIC MICE

Female mice is induced to


super ovulate and eggs are collected.

Eggs are fertilized.

Transgene or recombinant DNA is


injected into male nucleus.

Fertilized eggs are implanted into


female surrogate mother mice.

Screening for transgenic offsprings.