A common technique in genetic engineering is to insert a new gene into a loop of bacterial DNA called a plasmid. The molecular tool used to cut DNA is a restriction enzyme such as EcoRI. The enzyme has a precise shape that allows it to run along the groove of the double helix, scanning for the base letter sequence G A A T T C EcoRI then cuts the plasmid at this specific point allowing a new piece of DNA to be inserted. When it cuts, EcoRI leaves a sticky end, which helps the new gene to attach. The joins are THEN stitched together by another enzyme called DNA ligase. The genetically engineered bacteria is then grown in a culture medium. Very quickly, large numbers of the bacteria can be produced, each with a copy of the inserted gene. The bacteria duly manufacture whatever protein the gene codes for, and so the desired product is produced.
Our Biotechnology DVD first looks at major research areas in biotechnology such as the Human Genome Project and the various forms of recombinant DNA technology that produce transgenic plants and animals. The program then goes on to look at the tools used by biotechnologists such as restriction enzymes, plasmids, vector and vector less insertion of genes into genomes, and the production of genes via polymerase chain reactions. The program then concludes by looking at the future of biotechnology and some of the environmental, economic, and ethical issues raised by biotech.