Deoxyribonucleic acid is the cell's database. Within the base sequence is all the information necessary to encode RNA and protein. A number of biological and chemical methods now give us the ability to isolate DNA molecules and to determine their base sequence. Once we have the DNA and know the sequence, many possibilities open up. We can identify mutations that cause disease, make a human vaccine in a bacterial cell, or alter a sequence and hence the protein it encodes. The knowledge of the entire base sequence of the human genome, and of the genomes of many other organisms, such as bacteria that cause disease, is set to revolutionize medicine and biology. In future years the power of genetic engineering is likely to impact ever more strongly on industry and on the way we live. This chapter describes some of the important methods involved in recombinant DNA technology at the heart of which is DNA cloning.
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