A biotechnology glossary

Friday, August 15, 2008
by Conrad Storad

Biotechnology is the commercialization of biology and genetics. It is the application of new genetic technology to practical medical and industrial problems.

Amino acids are fundamental building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different amino acid types. The order of amino acids in a specific protein is determined by the order of bases in the gene directing the production of that protein.

Cells are the fundamental working units of every living system. All the instructions needed to direct their activities are contained within DNA, life’s master molecule.

Chromatin is the complex of DNA and protein that forms chromosomes during cell division.

Chromosomes are threadlike structures in the cell nucleus mainly made up of DNA. Each chromosome contains many genes.

Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions but are not themselves changed by those reactions. Certain enzymes are used in genetic engineering work to cut and join pieces of genetic material.

Genes are regions of DNA on a chromosome. Each gene contains the genetic code for the production of a specific protein. Genes make up only 2 percent of the entire human genome. All the rest is "junk" DNA.

Genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA. The human genome is estimated to contain 20,000-25,000 genes.

Peptide bonds are the links that join one amino acid with the next in the protein chain.

Proteins are large, complex molecules made up of smaller units called amino acids. Proteins make up the structure of cells and perform many functions within them.

Proteome is the constellation of all proteins in a cell. The proteome is dynamic. It changes from minute to minute in response to thousands of environmental signals from inside and outside the cell.

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology is the methods and techniques used to remove DNA from one organism and combine it with the DNA of another organism. Following the instructions on the foreign DNA, organisms such as bacteria and yeasts can produce substances that they are normally unable to make.