Basic Concepts of Recombinant DNA Technology

In 1973, a group of scientists produced the first organisms with recombinant DNA molecules. Stanley Cohen at

Stanford University and Herbert Boyer at the University of California School of Medicine at San Francisco and their colleagues inserted a piece of DNA from one plasmid into another, creating an entirely new, recombinant DNA molecule. They then introduced the recombinant plasmid into E. coli cells. Within a short time, they used the same methods to stitch together genes from two different types of bacteria, as well as to transfer genes from a frog to a bacterium. They called the hybrid DNA molecules chimeras, after the mythological Chimera, a creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. These experiments ushered in one of the most momentous revolutions in the history of science.

Recombinant DNA technology is a set of molecular techniques for locating, isolating, altering, and studying DNA segments. The term recombinant is used because frequently the goal is to combine DNA from two distinct sources. Genes from two different bacteria might be joined, for example, or a human gene might be inserted into a viral chromosome. Commonly called genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology now encompasses an array of molecular techniques that can be used to analyze, alter, and recombine virtually any DNA sequences.

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