Gene cloning occurs when a specific gene from a strand of DNA has been extracted and copied from an organism. Nearly any tissue source can be used for cloning, as long as there is not widespread degradation. DNA can also be extracted from RNA using a process called reverse transcription.
Genes are made from DNA and contain the basic building blocks of heredity. When a gene is cloned, an exact replica is produced. The process requires a variety of biotechnical techniques.
A basic explanation of the process of cloning a gene:
- Step 1: Extract the DNA from the organism that contains the desired gene. Using restriction enzymes, the DNA is cut into gene-sized pieces.
- Step 2: Restriction enzymes are used to cut the bacterial plasmids, which are the small circles of DNA that are located within bacteria cells that occur naturally.
- Step 3: The plasmids and cut DNA are combined together in a test tube where some will combine to form a new combination of DNA.
- Step 4: The new combinations are transferred into bacteria using a process called heat shock.
- Step 5: This bacteria is transferred to culture dishes and allowed to produce colonies called gene libraries.
- Step 6: The gene library is studied to see if the bacteria is reproducing the desired gene. The longer the bacteria is allowed to multiply, the easier it is to locate the specific gene.