This article best illustrates the importance of DNA technology through recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA is the process of developing a new form of DNA by combining two or more types of DNA together in a laboratory. This DNA is developed by selecting a few pieces of DNA from one organism and transferring them into another organism.
The last couple of decades has seen a tremendous amount of advancement in recombinant DNA technology and we can see its positive outcome in our daily life. The technology has diverse applications that are not making our present better but also securing our future. This article reflects major features, importance, and applications of recombinant DNA technology in various fields and industries.
Importance of Recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA is a part of genetic engineering. It can be used to produce productive results in the field of research, agriculture, medicine, and industry. With the help of genetic engineering, we can create multiple copies of genes and mix them with the foreign genes of other organisms to produce hybrid organisms with new traits. For example, these new traits can make an organism antibiotic resistive or give them a new color.
One of the most important uses of recombinant DNA technology is providing food and health benefits to people. The population of humans on the earth is increasing rapidly because of which demand for food, clean water, and health facilities are also increasing. With the limited amount of resources, it won’t be possible to complete the demands of every person. But with the help of recombinant DNA technology, it is possible to produce a surplus amount of food in the fields, clean the polluted water of rivers, lakes, and oceans, and develop vaccines for everyone so they can fight fatal diseases in the future.
Another important use of recombinant DNA for humans is to produce vaccines that can treat fatal diseases. The technology is used to re-engineer microbial cells which produce foreign proteins. These foreign proteins give us a chance to produce proteins that are found in the human body and operate on them to find new ways to treat disease and to study their therapeutic use.
In the field of agriculture, technology is proving to be a great tool and is in constant use to make plants resistant to pests and increase crop yields.
Recombinant DNA technology has great importance in keeping our environment clean. Through the bioremediation process, technology is proving a blessing for us. Phytoremediation and microbial remediation are producing such microorganisms that are capable of consuming plastic waste and oil spills in the oceans, saving our environment and millions of plants and animals.
Discovery of Recombinant DNA
Although the first DNA was determined in 1953, it took us two decades to generate the technology for its recombination. In the 1950s, scientists found out that plasmids, made of small pieces of DNA that can move, can replicate them into huge quantities. These plasmids do not depend on their chromosomal bacteria and are capable of transferring genetic information. This quality of host bacteria to inherit new genes led the scientist to develop hybrid organisms with new special functions.
Another discovery in this field took place in the 1960s when two scientists, Werner Arber who was a Swiss microbiologist, and Stuart Linn who was an American biochemist, found out that after adding a new gene to bacteria, they can survive the attack of the virus with the help of restrictive enzymes. This process helped us to prepare vaccines that could prevent the replication of viruses. Escherichia Coli K was the first restriction enzyme that was ever developed. It was isolated and purified by Robert Yuan and Matthew Meselson in 1968 at Harvard University.
In 1970, Thomas Kelly, Hamilton O Smith, and Kent Wilcox from the John Hopkins University succeeded in isolating and characterizing the very first restrictive enzyme that was site-specific. They later named it Hindlll. Daniel Nathan did further research on the technology and demonstrated that it can be a useful tool to cut the required DNA from the source and paste it on the specific DNA segments.
Later in the 1970s, two scientists from the Stanford University Medical School, Armin Dale Kaiser, and Peter Lobban created the first protocol for recombinant DNA. Taking this technology forward, Paul Berg, another scientist from Stanford University found a way for splicing and recombining genes. At the final stage, to give the technology its modern form, Stanley Cohen from Stanford University and Herbert Boyer from the University of California, San Francisco, succeeded in replicating DNA through recombination inside bacteria.
Applications of Recombinant DNA
- Years of research on recombinant DNA technology have allowed us to use it in various fields. The development in recombinant DNA technology has led us to produce novel enzymes, which are suitable for food processing. Some of the important enzymes, such as lipases and amylases, have extensive uses in this industry.
- The key field areas where this technology is in most use are human genome sequencing, the creation of hybrid animals, and the production of insect resistive crops.
- Other areas where technology is proving beneficial are forensic science to carry out genetic tests and archeology to determine the age, paternity, and hereditary disease of things found in excavations.
- There is also a great use of this technology in the diagnostic tests of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and hepatitis. Important protein therapies and vaccines, such as human insulin, human growth hormone, and interferon, are also developed after DNA recombination.
- The technology also has a use in the development of gene therapy and in the production of clotting factors for the treatment of hemophilia.
- The production of microbial strains is another great discovery under recombinant DNA technology. These microbial strains produce special enzymes with the help of specific engineering that can produce proteases. Several microbial strains also help us to modify fungi that can be used to reduce toxins in certain materials.
- Some of the complex DNA structures formed by recombinant DNA technology are helping us to investigate the effects of the drugs and their proper efficacy. The technology is in use to form heterologous expression, in which the genetic information of the enzymes is expressed as in-vitro or in-vivo.