genetic engineering

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ge·net·ic en·gi·neer·ing

internal manipulation of basic genetic material of an organism to modify biologic heredity or to produce peptides of high purity, such as hormones or antigens.

genetic engineering

Scientific alteration of the structure of genetic material in a living organism. It involves the production and use of recombinant DNA and has been employed to create bacteria that synthesize insulin and other human proteins.

genetic engineer n.

genetic engineering

the process of producing recombinant DNA for the purposes of altering and controlling the genotype and phenotype of organisms. Restriction enzymes are used to break a DNA molecule into fragments so that genes from another organism can be inserted into the DNA. Genetic engineering has been used to produce a variety of human proteins, including growth hormone, insulin, and interferon, in bacteria. At present, it represents a powerful tool for medical research but is possible only in microorganisms. In the future, genetic engineering may be applicable to more complex organisms, offering the possibility of controlling and eliminating genetic disorders and malformations in humans.


Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.

Biotech tools
Recombinant DNA, monoclonal antibody and bioprocessing techniques, cell fusion.
Biotech products
Antibiotics, insulin, interferons, recombinant DNA, and techniques (e.g., waste recycling).
Ancient forms of biotechnology
Production of bread, cheese, wine, beer.

genetic engineering

Biological engineering, genetic modification, recombinant DNA technology Molecular biology The manipulation of a living genome by introducing or eliminating specific genes through recombinant DNA techniques, which may result in a new capability–eg production of different substances or new functions, gene repair or replacement

genetic engineering

The deliberate alteration, for practical purposes, of the GENOME of a cell so as to change its hereditable characteristics. This is done mainly by recombinant DNA techniques using gene copies obtained by the POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION. Enzymes (restriction enzymes) are used to cut the nucleic acid molecule at determinable positions and short lengths of DNA from another organism are inserted. The second cell will now contain genes for the property or characteristic borrowed from the first cell. The genes might, for instance, code for the production of a useful protein such as insulin or some food material. Bacteria, yeasts and other organisms are used as the hosts for the new gene sequences and these organisms can be cloned in enormous numbers to produce the desired effects, or substances, for which the new genes code. Well over 100 valuable drugs and vaccines have been produced in this way, including human insulin, growth hormone, interferons, hepatitis vaccine, digoxin monoclonal antibody, orthoclonal OK3, somatotropin, TISSUE PLASMINOGEN ACTIVATOR (TPA), erythropoietin, granulocyte MACROPHAGE colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) and Factor VIII. Cloned copies of the genes for many genetic diseases have been made available for use as probes for the identification of the disease by AMNIOCENTESIS, before birth. The possibility also arises of correcting genetic defects in early embryos. Genetic engineering offers almost unlimited possibilities for the advancement of medicine, science and technology, but strict control is also necessary if the many manifest dangers are to be avoided.

genetic engineering

a broad term for all those processes that result in the directed modification of the genetic complement of an organism. The term applies to a wide range of genetical techniques, for example, plant and animal breeding to improve physiological performance by SELECTION, and GENE CLONING techniques for the deliberate transfer of genetic material from one organism to another where it is not normally found. For example, a gene can be removed from human cells and transferred to microbial cells (using BACTERIOPHAGE or PLASMID vectors) where the ‘foreign’ gene can direct the formation of useful products. There are many applications of genetic engineering in industry, agriculture and medicine. In industry a range of recombinant proteins has been obtained, for example INSULIN, INTERFERON and HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE. Genetic engineering is also being used in the development of VACCINES, novel plant varieties etc. See also TRANSGENESIS, PROTEIN ENGINEERING.

Genetic engineering

The manipulation of genetic material to produce specific results in an organism.
Mentioned in: Gene Therapy


1. pertaining to reproduction or to birth or origin.
2. inherited.

genetic abnormality
inherited defect, which may or may not be congenital.
genetic analysis
analysis of breeding and pedigree records to establish degrees of relationship between single animals and groups of animals. Segregation analysis with full-sibling families is an obvious technique.
genetic code
the manner in which the arrangement of nucleotides in the polynucleotide chain of a chromosome governs the transmission of genetic information to proteins, i.e. determines the sequence of amino acids in the polypeptide chain making up each protein synthesized by the cell. Genetic information is coded in DNA by means of four bases (two purines: adenine and guanine; and two pyrimidines: thymine and cystosine). Each adjacent sequence of three bases (a codon) determines which of the 20 amino acids will be inserted into the nascent polypeptide.
genetic complementation
genetic control of inherited disease
consists of preventing carrier animals from contributing their genes to succeeding generations of the population of which they are members.
genetic correlation
a change in an unselected character resulting from selection of another character during a breeding program.
genetic defects
defects of function or structure passed on from parents to offspring. Inherited defects.
genetic determination
see broad-sense heritability.
genetic disease resistance
inherited resistance to diseases caused by non-hereditary risk factors.
genetic dominance
see dominance (2).
genetic drift
see antigenic drift.
genetic engineering
the manipulation of genes by recombinant DNA technologies to produce chromosomal combinations that are unlikely to occur by natural means, for example the introduction of genes for insulin into a yeast cell which then produces insulin which can be purified and used as a therapeutic substance. See also recombinant DNA technology.
genetic etiology
disease caused by inheritance of specific disease without the intervention of other risk factors; established by strongly positive relationship in terms of genes held in common between the affected patient and other affected individuals.
genetic evaluation
assessment, for predictive purposes, of productive improvement or conformational characteristics, of the gain to be derived by the use of the animal in question in a breeding program.
genetic expressivity
genetic heterogeneity
demonstrated by the way in which more than one disease with identical clinical signs can be inherited.
genetic immunization
use of a cloned genetically engineered gene with an encoded antigen to immunize the host against that antigen. See also DNA vaccine.
genetic map
the linear arrangement of genes along a chromosome. Called also linkage map.
genetic merit
inherited productivity or performance qualities.
mobile genetic elements
see transposable genetic elements (below).
genetic penetrance
genetic production potential
inherited productivity but still influenced by environmental risk factors.
genetic resistance
genetically determined resistance to specified infectious agents.
genetic selection
selection of animals as breeding stock on the basis of known inherited characteristics.
transposable genetic elements
pieces of DNA varying in length from a few hundred to tens of thousands of base pairs found in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells that move from place to place in the chromosomes of a single cell; some are viruses. Called also mobile genetic elements or transposons.
genetic variance
that portion of the phenotypic variance of a trait in a population which can be attributed to genetic difference amongst individuals.
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