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Functional Genomics: A Tool in Genetic Engineering

BY: Lorato Lekgari | Category: Biology | Submitted: 2010-07-21 17:16:03
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Article Summary: "Define the different functional genomics and what they are used for in relation to genetic engineering..."


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There area kind of particular approaches in biotechnology that facilitate the understanding of how genes regulate life. This forms the basis for manipulating the life of the organisms in order to achieve desired phenotypes. This approaches are referred to as functional genomics and they the basis for genetic engineering. These 'omics' include bioinformatics, trascriptomics, proteomics, metagenomics and metabolomics.

Bioinformatics: This is a tool that applies computer science and statistics in the study of macromolecules. It is used to analyse gene/DNA sequences. It can be used to map and create 3dimensional models of proteins. This gives more insight into understanding biological processes as the information regarding DNA/gene sequences, their mapping and protein structures, can be used for comparison with any other novel genes and thus compare genetics across species and organisms. This is possible as bioinformatics creates databases, computational and statistical techniques. It is applied in different fields as knowing structures of proteins and sequences of genes encoding for them at the same time being able to compare these in different organisms, drugs can be discovered and designed for genetic disorders and other conditions, evolution patterns can be determined, protein-protein interactions and a lot more other biological processes can be understood better and thus solutions to particular problems can be formulated.

Transcriptomics: A branch of molecular biology that deals with gene expression. This means that it looks or studies messenger RNA (mRNA) which is the transcribed gene from DNA and is translated into a functional protein. The study looks into RNA sequences using next generation sequencing techniques or different polymerase reactions (PCR) techniques like qPCR, mRNA expression level determination using DNA microarrays. This can thus be summed up that trascriptomics is the study of the transcriptome the transcriptome being all the different RNA transcripts produced in the genome. Knowing gene expression /mRNA expression levels and being able to sequence these molecules, is vital in genetic engineering as it gives information on biological processes especially where proteins are involved.

Proteomics: The overall study of protein structures and function. The proteome which is the entire proteins of an organism is difficult as it's unstable due to different conditions that an organism might find itself under. For example, if plants are in stress conditions certain genes are up-regulated that otherwise are not active under non stressing conditions, thus resulting in different proteins that are maybe not synthesised in non stressing conditions. Thus proteomics helps to compare protein composition, levels and structure due to different conditions. This is important in understanding biological processes.

Metagenomics: The study of different genetic material collected directly from an environment. This thus includes genes from different organisms that were present in the particular environment at the time of sample collection. It is particularly important in knowing the micro life that exist in particular environmental condition such as bacteria that is capable of living and thriving in acidic conditions. Isolating the genes of these organisms and seeing which ones are highly expressed maybe in relation to the proteins acting to make the organisms to tolerate such conditions, will give insight on which genes to use to transform other organisms that are otherwise non tolerant of the particular environmental condition.

Metabolomics: Study of metabolites in an organism. This looks at the kind of metabolites and their levels at a given time under particular environmental conditions that the organism is in. Understanding these then gives insight o=into which metabolites are produced in high or low levels at different conditions. Identifying these genes will lead into genetic engineers being able to up-regulate or down-regulate production of metabolites of interest in order to harvest more of them or to make the organism to survive particular stresses.

All of the above 'omics' and others that are not discussed here are due to the genetic make up of an organism. The study of all genes, their function, activators, repressors, sequences, expression levels fall under this study. That is why it is befitting to refer to the 'omics' as functional genomics as life processes all starts with a gene.

Functional genomics are important in genetic engineering as they give a genetic engineer information on which genes to silence, up-regulate or down-regulate in an organism in order to increase the metabolite of interest. These studies are especially important in medicine for cellular conditions such as cancer as genes that causes the uncontrollable amplification of cell mass, then this condition ca be arrested the same is true in plants tolerance or resistance to stress as the genes involved cab be identified, isolated and then over-expressed in the particular species or a different one to give it the desirable trait. Thus in genetic engineering, all of these studies have to be brought together in order to successfully genetically manipulate organisms.

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Comments on this article: (1 comments so far)

Comment By Comment
Alexandre moreau
2012-06-15 21:10:50 307
great little summery.. however get someone to proof read it. there are a number of grammatical and spelling mistakes in it.

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