Genomics Laboratory

Each list begins with basic conceptual vocabulary you need to know for MCAT questions and proceeds to advanced terms that might appear in context in MCAT passages. The terms are links to Wikipedia articles.
DNA electrophoresis
DNA electrophoresis is an analytical technique used to separate DNA fragments by size though the use of an electric field which forces the fragments to migrate through a gel.
Agarose is a material used to form a common type of electrophoresis gel which is derived from the cell membranes of some species of red algae or seaweed.
Capillary electrophoresis
Capillary electrophoresis separates biological macromolecules based on their size to charge ratio in the interior of a very narrow tube filled with an electrolyte.
DNA sequencing
The term DNA sequencing encompasses biochemical methods for determining the order of the nucleotide bases in a DNA oligonucleotide.
Polymerase chain reaction
The polymerase chain reaction is a technique widely used in molecular biology to exponentially amplify a fragment of DNA by in vitro enzymatic replication.
Restriction enzyme
A restriction enzyme is an enzyme that cuts double-stranded DNA in such a way that the fragments from different chromosomes or genes can be spliced together by ligases.
Complementary DNA (cDNA)
Complementary DNA is DNA synthesized from a single-stranded RNA (e.g., messenger RNA (mRNA) or microRNA (miRNA)) template in a reaction catalyzed by the enzyme reverse transcriptase.
Cloning vector
A cloning vector is a small DNA vehicle that carries a foreign DNA fragment.
A plasmid is a DNA molecule separate from chromosomal DNA which is capable of autonomous replication. It is typically circular and double-stranded.
A prophage is a phage genome inserted as part of the linear structure of the DNA chromosome of a bacterium.
Dideoxynucleotides are nucleotides lacking a three prime hydroxyl group on their deoxyribose sugar. After one is added by a DNA polymerase to a growing nucleotide chain, no further nucleotides can be added.
Shotgun sequencing
In shotgun sequencing, DNA is broken up randomly into numerous small segments, which are sequenced. The process is repeated until multiple overlapping reads for the target DNA are obtained
Lambda phage
Heavily used as a vector for the cloning of recombinant DNA, lambda phage is a bacterial virus, or bacteriophage, that infects the bacterial species Escherichia coli.
Transduction is the process by which foreign DNA is introduced into a cell by a virus or viral vector.
In molecular biology and genetics, transformation is the genetic alteration of a cell resulting from the direct uptake and incorporation of exogenous genetic material from its surroundings through the cell membrane(s).
Taq polymerase
Taq polymerase is a thermostable DNA polymerase named after the thermophilic bacterium Thermus aquaticus from which it was isolated. This enzyme is able to withstand the high temperature required during PCR.
Transgenic bacteria
Transgenic bacteria refers to bacteria which have been genetically engineered.
Molecular cloning
Molecular cloning refers to the procedure of isolating a defined DNA sequence and obtaining multiple copies of it in vivo.
Fertility factor
The Fertility factor (also known as F factor or sex factor) is a bacterial DNA sequence that allows a bacterium to produce a sex pilus necessary for conjugation.
Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA (in this context called complementary DNA or cDNA) and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Expression vector
An expression vector is a plasmid or virus designed for gene expression in cells.
A library is a collection of DNA fragments that is stored and propagated in a population of micro-organisms through the process of molecular cloning.
An autoradiograph is an image on an x-ray film or nuclear emulsion produced by the pattern of decay emissions (e.g., beta particles or gamma rays) from a distribution of a radioactive substance.
Quantitative PCR
A real-time polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR), also known as quantitative PCR, is a laboratory technique that monitors the amplification of a targeted DNA molecule during PCR, not at its end, as in conventional PCR.
Liquid scintillation counting[
Liquid scintillation counting is the measurement of radioactive activity of a sample material which uses the technique of mixing the active material with a primary or secondary phosphor, and counting the resultant photon emissions.
Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)
Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) is a technique that exploits variations in homologous DNA sequences, known as polymorphisms, in order to distinguish individuals, populations, or species or to pinpoint the locations of genes within a sequence.
DNA microarray
A DNA microarray (also commonly known as gene or genome chip, DNA chip, or gene array) is a collection of microscopic DNA spots arrayed on a solid surface by covalent attachment to a chemical matrix.
Ethidium bromide
Ethidium bromide is an intercalating agent commonly used as a nucleic acid stain in molecular biology laboratories for techniques such as agarose gel electrophoresis.
Nested polymerase chain reaction
Nested polymerase chain reaction is a modification of polymerase chain reaction intended to reduce the contaminations in products due to the amplification of unexpected primer binding sites.
Restriction modification system
The restriction modification system based on sequence specific restriction enzymes is used by bacteria to protect themselves from foreign DNA, such as bacteriophages.
Endolysin is a generic term describing an enzyme that lyses a bacterial membrane.
Gene knockout
A gene knockout is a genetically engineered organism that carries one or more genes in its chromosomes that have been made inoperative.
Phage display
Phage display is a test to screen for protein interactions by integrating multiple genes from a gene bank into phage.
Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification
Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification is a variation of the polymerase chain reaction that permits multiple targets to be amplified with only a single primer pair.
Hfr cell
An hfr cell is a bacterium with a conjugative plasmid integrated into its genomic DNA.
Bacterial artificial chromosome
A bacterial artificial chromosome is a DNA construct, based on a fertility plasmid, used for transforming and cloning in bacteria.
Yeast artificial chromosome
A yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) is a vector used to clone large DNA fragments which contains the telomeric, centromeric, and replication origin sequences needed for replication.
Multiple cloning site
A multiple cloning site, also called a polylinker, is a short segment of DNA which contains many, usually 20 or more, restriction sites - a standard feature of engineered plasmids.
Beta-lactamases are enzymes produced by some bacteria and are responsible for their resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics like penicillins, cephalosporins, cephamycins and carbapenems.
Blue white screen
The blue-white screen is a molecular technique that allows for the detection of successful ligations in vector-based gene cloning.
X-gal is a galactoside and indole used in gene cloning to indicate whether a bacterium expresses the beta-galactosidase enzyme, which is encoded by the lacZ gene.
Electrophoretic mobility shift assay
An electrophoretic mobility shift assay is a common technique used to study protein-DNA or protein-RNA interactions.

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