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Biotechnology is the application of technologies to the conventional biology with a goal of betterment of human life. The scope of biotechnology is vast and understanding the basics of biotechnology has become essential for the life science students. One of the important areas of biotechnology is recombinant DNA technology. This technology is the essence of many useful strategies widely used in healthcare, medicine, and nutrition. This article gives the basic idea about the topic and discusses its scope.
Recombinant DNA is the DNA which is formed by the combination of DNA from two or more sources. While studying the basics of this technology, one must understand some important terms and students should know about:
·        Genome: The genetic constitution of an organism
·        Clones: Genetically identical organisms
·        Cloning: Introduction of foreign DNA into the host cell
·        Vector: Carrier of the gene of interest (ex. Plasmid, Phage)
·        Marker: Gene for the identification of transformant cells
·        Insert: Gene of interest carried by the vector to the host cell
·      Recombinant DNA: DNA formed by joining the DNA from different origins, mostly used for a combination of vector and insert
·        Host: Recipient cell for foreign DNA
·        Copy number: Copy number of a vector denotes the number of copies it can produce within a cell
Tools used for recombinant DNA technology are the molecules, mainly enzymes, used for the manipulation of DNA like cutting, joining, end modification etc. (1). Some are enlisted below.
·        Restriction enzymes:  Popularly known as “molecular scissors”
·        Ligase: Popularly known as “molecular glue”
·        Topoisomerase
·        End modification enzymes: Polynucleotide kinases, nucleases
·        Linkers, adapters, and connectors.
The central dogma of recombinant DNA technology
A.  Insert selection: Insert is typically the gene of interest which we desire to clone
B.   The formation of a recombinant DNA: It involves the use of restriction enzymes as well as a ligase. It is the joining of an insert to a vector.
C.   Cloning of this recombinant DNA into a host cell.
D. Expression of the gene of interest
The whole aim for gene transfer exercises is either
A.  Phenotypic expression of a foreign gene in an organism as can be seen in case of crop improvement techniques
B.   Production of a particular protein in bulk
Ex. Heterologous protein production like the production of human insulin in bacteria
This technology is widely used in healthcare industries, agriculture, clinical research etc. Apart from this, it is also used for gene therapies including various genetic disease.
While using this technology, expressing a foreign gene in a given host is not that easy. Obviously, the host cell has to make a lot of compromises. Research is going on to address this issue (2). Recombinant DNA technology is further being expanded as synthetic biology (3), which will be the main driving force for therapeutics, food and energy sector and a lot more industries.
  2. Ceroni F, Algar R, Stan G, Ellis T et al (2018) Nature Methods, 15:387–393,
  3. Katz L, Chen YY, Gonzalez R et al (2018) J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol, 45: 449.
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