Biotechnology: Processes

Recombinant DNA

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Ben Whitten

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What is recombinant DNA?
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Recombinant DNA (rDNA) is DNA which is composed of one or more genes from two different organisms (usually different species); foreign DNA is transferred into the genome of the host organism, and is then expressed in the host.


The host organism is then called a transgenic organism, or a genetically modified organism (GMO). The introduced gene instructs the transgenic organism to produce the desired trait through gene expression. The trait may be passed onto future generations.

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How is rDNA produced?
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Recombinant DNA is produced by first isolating a DNA sequence, then inserting it into the DNA of a different organism. Two key DNA tools used in the production of rDNA are:


  • Restriction enzymes (enzymes which separate DNA at specific recognition sites, forming DNA fragments)

  • DNA ligase (a 'gluing' enzyme which catalyses the formation of phosphodiester bonds)


Process


  1. 2 pieces of DNA are cut using the same restriction enzyme, producing fragments with sticky (overhanging ends) [Note: it is crucial to state that they are cut using the same restriction enzymes, otherwise they would not anneal to each other]

  2. Fragments with complementary sticky ends can be joined via complementary base-pairing rules; this anneals or hybridises the DNA

  3. Fragments of DNA are joined together by DNA ligase, producing a new molecule of DNA

  4. Joined fragments will usually either form a linear or circular molecule (such as plasmid DNA), and are reinserted into the desired host organism to be expressed

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Where is recombinant DNA technology used?
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Recombinant DNA technology is widely used in a number of science disciplines, including:


  • Agriculture

  • Environmental conservation

  • Medicine


Many careers that require the use of technology also include fields of study in;


  • Agricultural careers

  • Environmental careers

  • Medical careers

  • Veterinary science

  • Forensic science

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Introduction to Biotechnology
DNA Tools, Techniques and Vocabulary
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
Gel Electrophoresis
Microarrays
DNA Sequencing
DNA Profiling
Recombinant DNA
Vectors
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