Kids Biotechnology Weekend

October 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

Remote-controlled protein factories

Engineered bacterial cells can churn out medically useful proteins such as insulin, the blood-clotting agent thrombin, and a host of other human enzymes and hormones. Plants, yeast and even other mammals can be given the genes needed to produce valuable proteins that they don’t make naturally. Most famously, even notoriously, genetically modified goats can secrete spider silk in their milk, which can be extracted and used to make tough fibres.

But in many ways this is taking a sledgehammer to a nut. If all you want is a particular protein – whose chemical structure in encoded within a gene in DNA – then even a bacterium is an awfully complicated bit of machinery to make it. Strictly speaking, all you really need to do the job are the DNA itself, the amino acids from which proteins are made, and the molecular machinery for translating DNA into proteins – in particular, an assembly of proteins and RNA called a ribosome, which builds the new protein molecules.

For more click here for a good article from the BBC.

Entry filed under: Kids Science. Tags: .

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