|MadSci Network: Molecular Biology|
This is a vague question and I’m not exactly sure how to answer this…… but here goes. According to the textbook Molecular Cell Biology by Lodish et al: Recombinant DNA is DNA that have had insertion points made by enzymes called DNA ligases and restrction enzymes. (Restriction enzymes cut the DNA strand at specific sequences, ligases attach engineered or other cut sequences to that specific site.) The recombinant DNA can then be “mass produced” as identical copies in other cells like bacteria. Recombinant DNAs thus can be produced containing either natural DNA fragments from restriction-enzyme cleavage or any desired chemically synthesized mutant sequence. Any cloned DNA segment, whether natural, modified, or completely synthetic, can be reinserted into cells and tested for biological activity. This group of techniques is often referred to as recombinant DNA technology and is a most common approach to study many basic biological processes. Recombinant DNA technology is a powerful tool but like any other scientific procedure or tool, all variables and results need to be looked at closely. Verification that the DNA was spliced in the proper location, that it ligated only the intended sequence, that the resulting sequence results in the correct protein (or in the case of mutation, potentially what protein or any protein?), what does this DNA sequence do to your cell-type of interest, etc are all things that need to be carefully looked at. Further, if these sequences/proteins/cells are introduced into a living cell or animal, careful study of what that does both locally and systemically is vitally necessary. As a caveat to this, animals or even plants being studied that contain mutations must be well contained so as not to become part of the natural population and therefore perpetuate that mutation through reproduction. Recombinant DNA technology has been used to understand the cause of many disease, study the result of naturally occurring mutations, and even treat several diseases in both animals and plants. Like most scientific techniques, all steps of these techniques are difficult to perform and technically demanding. Further they are to be applied to appropriate questions and are not meant to solve every problem. One should always be aware of ethical issues of the technology as a whole, as is true of any scientific method or technique.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Molecular Biology.