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Molecular Biology

Detailed information on Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is the study of how cells function and work together to carry out processes to maintain host cells and promote development, as well as a range of other processes. This includes molecules such as DNA and RNA, which are used to make proteins, as well as other target organic compounds such as fats, carbohydrates, and lipids. The field of molecular biology began in the early 1900s with the discovery that genes could be transmitted from one generation to another through heredity. Since then, it has become a highly specialised area of science that has made significant contributions to many areas of biology including genetics, biochemistry, and medicine [1].

There are many techniques that can be used in the study of Molecular Biology. Some of the basic ones are discussed below:

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)

One of the most powerful techniques within molecular biology is PCR, which amplifies specific DNA sequences of interest from a sample. This is essential when studying gene expression or protein synthesis. However, there are many other potential applications such as forensics, clinical diagnostics, and environmental monitoring. This is because PCR can be performed on any type of sample including cells, tissues, and viruses however the most common types of samples utilised include whole blood (e.g., white blood cell count) Tissue (e.g., liver biopsy) Cells (e.g., skin fibroblast) Viruses (e.g., HIV-1 reverse transcriptase) [2].

Gel Electrophoresis

Gel electrophoresis is the separation of proteins using an electric field. The molecules are separated by their charge, and the most negative charges move to one side of the gel. Proteins with similar charges will travel together in a single band on the gel. The gel can be made from agarose, polyacrylamide, or cellulose. The separation occurs because the smaller molecules are more negatively charged than larger ones, so they move faster through the gel than larger molecules do. This results in them being separated into different bands varying dependent on their molecular size within the same solution [3].

Western Blot

Western blot is a technique used to detect proteins in cell and tissue samples. Western blotting uses antibodies, which are molecules that bind to specific proteins or other molecules. When the antibody binds to its target, it changes shape and becomes visible as an insoluble protein fragment on a gel electrophoresis (GE) plate. The GE plate then allows for the detection of these fragments using colorimetric detection methods such as chemiluminescence or fluorescent microscopy. The most common use of western blot is to detect protein expression levels in cells and tissues by detecting the presence of specific proteins through their interaction with antibodies produced against them [4].

Molecular cloning

Molecular cloning is a technique that allows scientists to produce copies of genes or DNA sequences. The process involves taking a piece of DNA and inserting it into an organism, such as bacteria or yeast. Once the inserted gene has replicated in the host cell, scientists can then use this new copy of the gene to make more copies of itself. Currently, with regards to applications, scientists use molecular cloning to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for research purposes or to develop pharmaceutical drugs [5].

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