Team:INSA Toulouse/contenu/extras/glossary




  • Abstraction: a term borrowed from software engineering to indicate the management of complexity inherent to biological parts and the systems made with them. Abstraction simplifies components by hiding, or "black boxing" information, facilitating their use and re-use.
  • Biosafety level: precautions and containment rules for safely working with biological agents in laboratory facilities.
  • Cloning: recombinant DNA molecules inserted into a plasmid or virus "vector." The vector must then be introduced into a host cell without killing it.
  • Device: an engineered genetic object that produces a human-defined function under specified conditions. Devices are produced by combining one or more standard biological parts.
  • DNA Synthesis: chemical assembly of nucleotides in a specified order.
  • Gel electrophoresis: Method using an electric field to separate charged polymers like DNA or proteins loaded into a sieving medium, usually a gel such as agarose or polyacrylamide gels. Polymers are separated according to their charge and size.
  • iGEM: : the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition in which teams of undergraduates build living systems from standardized, biological parts.
  • Inverter: takes an input signal and produces the opposite output signal, e.g., HIGH input produces LOW output and vice versa. An inverter functions like a Boolean NOT.
  • Open Reading Frame (ORF): the DNA pattern of triplet sequences that encode a protein.
  • Part: a nucleic acid-encoded biological function.
  • PCR: a technique for amplifying DNA. The reactions require only 4 components: DNA to be amplified, oligonucleotide primers to bind sequences flanking the target, dNTPs which will be incorporated in the neo-synthesized DNA chains, and a heat stable polymerase in an approriate buffered solution that will catalyze the synthesis reaction.
  • Plasmid: a circular, double-stranded DNA molecule typically containing a few thousand base pairs that replicates within a cell independently of the chromosomal DNA. Plasmid DNA is easily recovered from cell cultures. They usually contain a multiple cloning site to allow insertion of heterologous DNA and can be easily re-incorporated into host cells using common lab techniques.
  • Promoter: sequence of DNA to which RNA polymerase binds for initiation of transcription. This DNA region is located upstream the gene of interest and finely regulate its transcription.
  • Recombinase: genetic recombination enzyme. DNA recombinases are widely used in multicellular organisms to manipulate the structure of genomes, and to control gene expression. These enzymes, derived from bacteria and fungi, catalyze directionally sensitive DNA exchange reactions between short (30–40 nucleotides) target site sequences that are specific to each recombinase. These reactions enable four basic functional modules, excision/insertion, inversion, translocation and cassette exchange, which can be either indivually used or combined in a wide range of configurations to control gene expression.
  • Restriction Enzyme: an enzyme that recognizes and cleaves a specific DNA sequence.
  • Ribosome Binding Site (RBS): the sequence of RNA to which ribosome binds for initiation of translation.
  • Riboswitch: regulatory segment of a messenger RNA molecule that binds a small molecule. As a result of ligand binding, gene expression may be activated or suppressed. Thus, an mRNA that contains a riboswitch is directly involved in regulating its own activity, in response to the concentrations of its effector molecule.
  • Standardization: a series of assembly and characterization rules. These standards may allow the reliable physical and functional assembly of genetic parts into devices, and devices into systems..
  • Transcription: the reaction that converts of DNA-template information to RNA. This reaction is catalyzed by one of several RNA polymerases.
  • Transcriptional Terminator: a sequence of DNA that signals the end of transcription by RNA polymerase. Terminator sequences are often inverted repeats in the DNA that fold into stem-loop structures, leading the RNA polymerase to pause and be released from the DNA template.
  • Translation: Process that converts messenger RNA information to protein. This reaction occurs in the ribosomes, a molecular machinery dedicated to protein synthesis.