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AP Biology, Science Research Classes Get Hands-On at Regeneron DNA Facility

Iona Preparatory's Advanced Placement Biology & Science Research classes visited the DNA Learning Center at Regeneron in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., in early April to perform molecular genetics laboratory exercises called DNA Restriction Analysis & Electrophoresis.

 The discovery of restriction enzymes, the scissors of molecular biologists, allowed for a breakthrough in understanding the genetics of organisms. These enzymes are at the heart of recombinant DNA technology, allowing endless new combinations of DNA to be engineered.

Using two of these restriction enzymes, the students cut DNA from the genome of a bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria). The resulting DNA fragments were then analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis and used as a comparison to figure out the enzymatic contents of an unknown sample.

Today, restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis are important tools in forensics, genetics, population studies, and biomedical research.