Isolating, Cloning, and Sequencing DNA

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Isolating, Cloning, and Sequencing DNA

Until the early 1970s DNA was the most difficult cellular molecule for the biochemist to analyze. Enormously long and chemically monotonous, the string of nucleotides that forms the genetic material of an organism could be examined only indirectly, by protein or RNA sequencing or by genetic analysis. Today the situation has changed entirely. From being the most difficult macromolecule of the cell to analyze, DNA has become the easiest. It is now possible to isolate a specific region of a genome, to produce a virtually unlimited number of copies of it, and to determine the sequence of its nucleotides overnight. At the height of the Human Genome Project, large facilities with automated machines were generating DNA sequences at the rate of 1000 nucleotides per second, around the clock. By related techniques, an isolated gene can be altered (engineered) at will and transferred back into the germ line of an animal or plant, so as to become a functional and heritable part of the organism's genome.

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