Gene gun is the technique of biotechnology, usually used in plant biotechnology. It is one of the methods of genetic engineering. It is also called as the biolistic method. It is commonly used to insert the genetic material into the cells by the particles coated into small DNA sequences. The gun is fired at the cluster of the cells and the DNA sequences enter the desired cell. The method of gene gun is used in the laboratory and for the research purposes. It is also used to develop new products.
The gene gun was introduced in 1980 when the researchers wanted to insert the genetic material into the organism. This method was first developed for the plant cells but it is also applied in human and animals' studies. With time, modifications are made in this method to make it more useful to perform its functions efficiently.
How Gene Gun works:-
The gene gun method starts when a bullet is prepared by using metal atoms usually gold or tungsten which is coated in the DNA. A Petri dish is used which is filled with the desired cells. The bullet is fired into the solution and the particles release the DNA which enters into the cells. These cells become genetically modified and can be used for various purposes. When the genetic material is inserted into the cells, a genetic marker is also inserted with the bullet so that it can show that the genetic material has entered the cells successfully. Sometimes the particles are not coated with the DNA molecules, but they pick up the DNA from the solution and take it into the cells.
The gene gun method can also be used to transform cell organelles into the cells such as chloroplast and mitochondria. Due to this method the researchers can be able to engineer genetically modified organelles which cab create herbicide or pesticide resistance in the plants. This method can also be used in the research purposes like DNA vaccination, genetic immunization, gene therapy and tumor or wound healing. Sometimes the cell does not produce the desired protein, for this reason the researcher use this method to force the cell to produce the specific protein.
The method of gene gun can also be used to make genetic modifications in the plants. By using this method, the plants can made resistant to drought by making changes in their genetic makeup or inserting new genes. The nutritional value can also be increased and makes use f herbicides safely around the crops.
Method of Gene Gun:-
Gene gun method is useful in plants as well as animals.
In plants, the gene gun method is applied on the callus of the undifferentiated cells of the plant which is placed in the Petri dish. When the gene gun fires the particles into the dish, cells and callus get disturbed, but there are some cells which do not get disrupted by the fire and successfully envelop the DNA and insert it into the cell.
Animals and humans:-
In human and animals, the gene gun method is used to deliver DNA vaccines into the body. It is also used to deliver plasmids into the neurons of rat. This method is also useful in studying the neurodegenerative diseases in humans like Alzheimer's disease.
There are some limitations by using this method. First the method of gene gun is very expensive. Second, sometimes the particles can penetrate into the cells without carrying the genetic material which can cause damage to the cells. There are possibilities that the genetic material or DNA cannot pass into the cell properly. Some people think the DNA may insert into the undesired cells which transform the genetic traits into the wild plants and this is how herbicide resistance and pesticide resistance can produce in the weeds also.
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