Mulligan, Pamela K. Department of Biochemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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- Basic techniques
- Isolation of passenger DNA
- Joining DNA molecules
- Cloning vectors
- Prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes
- Animal cells
- Plant cells
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The intentional production of new genes and alteration of genomes by the deletion, substitution, or addition of new genetic material. Genetic engineering involves the artificial recombination of nucleic acid molecules in the test tube; their insertion into a virus, bacterial plasmid, or other vector system; and the subsequent incorporation of the chimeric molecules into a host organism in which they are capable of continued propagation. The construction of such molecules also has been termed gene manipulation because it usually involves the production of novel genetic combinations by biochemical means. Importantly, genetic engineering provides the ability to propagate and grow in bulk a line of genetically identical organisms, all containing the same artificially recombinant molecule. Any genetic segment, as well as the gene product encoded by it, can therefore potentially be amplified. For these reasons, the process also has been termed molecular cloning or gene cloning (Fig. 1). The application of genetic engineering techniques is controversial, though, in particular as it relates to crops that have been genetically modified to produce a desired biological product. As such, the commercial acceptance of genetically modified organisms remains contentious. See also: Bioethics; Biotechnology; Cloning; CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing; Gene; Gene amplification; Genetically modified organism (GMO); Genetics; Genomics; Nucleic acid; Plasmid; Recombination (genetics)
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