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What Is This Module About?

In your opinion, how important is the process of reproduction to life? Without reproduction,
life would not be possible. But just how is reproduction carried out? And what determines how a
particular organism looks? Why do you resemble some of your relatives? The answers lie inside a
molecule found inside the cell—the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
How characteristics are transmitted from parents to offspring is the subject of the science of
genetics. Since the discovery of the unique structure of the DNA in 1952, scientists’
understanding of the process behind heredity has deepened. The exciting fields of molecular
biology and biotechnology also grew from the significant discovery.
In this module, you will learn about the molecular basis of heredity and variation. You will
first learn about the structure and functions of the DNA molecule and understand why it is
considered the genetic material of all living cells. You will also learn about biotechnology and its
important applications.
This module is divided into two lessons. These lessons are:
Lesson 1 – The DNA Molecule
Lesson 2 – Biotechnology

What Will You Learn From This Module?

After studying this module, you should be able to:


♦ describe the structure of the DNA molecule;
♦ discuss the functions of the DNA ;
♦ explain why the DNA is considered the genetic material of all living cells;
♦ discuss the concept of biotechnology;
♦ give the important applications of biotechnology;
♦ explain the concept of cloning; and
♦ identify the legal, social and moral implications of cloning.

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Let’s See What You Already Know

Before you start studying this module, take the following test to find out how well you know
the topics to be discussed.
A. Answer the following questions. Write your answers on the lines provided.
1. How will you describe the DNA molecule?
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

2. Give one function of the DNA molecule.


_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

3. Why is the DNA considered the genetic material of all living things?
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

4. What is biotechnology?
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

5. Give one important general application of biotechnology.


_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

6. What is cloning?
_____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________

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B. Choose the letter of the best answer. Write your answer on the line before each item.
_____1. Guanine, cytosine, adenine and thymine are _________.
a. nucleotides
b. nitrogenous bases
c. nucleic acids
_____2. Each human being has a unique sequence of DNA or genes.
a. True
b. False
_____3. It is the application of scientific knowledge or technology in the investigation
and establishment of evidence in a court of law.
a. genetic engineering
b. DNA technology
c. forensic science
_____4. The first human protein to be manufactured by biotechnology is _________.
a. hemoglobin
b. insulin
c. lipoprotein
_____5. The following are all transgenic livestock except _________.
a. cattle
b. pigs
c. mice
_____6. Transformed bacteria can be used for the following reasons except for
_________.
a. cleaning up wastes
b. producing human proteins
c. generating milk

Well, how was it? Do you think you fared well? Compare your answers with those in the
Answer Key on page 29.
If all your answers are correct, very good! This shows that you already know much about
the topics in this module. You may still study the module to review what you already know. Who
knows, you might learn more new things.
If you got a low score, don’t feel bad. This module is for you and it will help you understand
some important concepts that you can apply in your daily life. If you study this module carefully,
you will learn the answers to all the items in the test and a lot more! Are you ready?
You may go now to the next page to begin Lesson 1.

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LESSON 1

The DNA Molecule

Why do you look the way you do? How do viruses succeed in attacking and infecting our
cells? Why do bacteria manage to reproduce at such very rapid rates? What makes rice plants
resistant to a certain kind of pest and not to others? What makes us humans beings different from
our closest relatives, the apes? You can find the answer to all these questions in the study of a
very important molecule—the DNA.
The DNA molecule is considered as the genetic material of all living cells. It is present in
bacteria, protists, fungi, plants and animals. It is where the gene, the functional unit of heredity, is
stored. It is always available whenever the cell needs to produce important molecules such as
proteins or enzymes. This molecule contains all the information and clues about you: your height,
complexion, eye color, intelligence and even your tendency to suffer from certain diseases such as
cancer.
Nowadays, most of the discoveries and inventions in the field of genetics are the results of
DNA research. Once the structure of the DNA was determined, many discoveries about the
patterns of heredity were made. Today, society has truly changed because of the DNA.
In this lesson, you will learn about the structure and functions of the DNA molecule. You will
also understand the role and functions of the DNA as the genetic material of all living cells.

Let’s Study and Analyze

Study and describe the illustration of the DNA molecule below.

The DNA molecule

Write your description of the DNA molecule below.


____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

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If you described the DNA molecule as a ladder-like structure, you are absolutely correct. It
is made up of two strands coiled together. Between the strands are structures that resemble the
rungs of the ladder.
In what part of a cell can you find the DNA molecule? Below is an illustration of a cell.
Encircle the part of the cell where you can find the DNA.

Nucleus
Chromatin
Cytoplasm
Nuclear
envelope
Nuclear
pore

Ribosomes

The cell

If you encircled the nucleus, you are right. The DNA molecule is found in the nucleus of the
cell. It is also produced inside the nucleus. Specifically, the DNA is found in the chromosome
along with a roughly equal mass of proteins called histones. It carries hereditary information and
takes part actively in cell reproduction.
Can you now see how important the DNA molecule is? Now, if the DNA is responsible for
cell reproduction, do you think that the DNA is also responsible for producing an entire organism
like yourself? Why? Write your answer below.
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

If you answered yes, you are correct. You should remember that you are what you are
because of your DNA. The shape of your nose, your height, your complexion and your other
traits are controlled by your DNA.
If the DNA is responsible for making an organism, then it is also responsible for producing
an entire population of species.

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Let’s Learn

Study the diagram below. This will help you remember the role of DNA as the genetic
material of all living organisms.
DNA → cell → tissue → organ → system → organism → population
Can you make a conclusion out of the diagram? Write it down below.
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

Always remember that without the DNA molecule, there would be no cells, tissues, organs,
systems, organisms and populations of different species.
Since the DNA molecule is a chemical substance, there should be a chemical process
responsible for producing the cell. What do you think is that process? Don’t worry if you don’t
know the answer yet, you will understand it later as you go along this lesson. First, you must
study the important parts of the DNA molecule. Take a look again at the picture of the DNA
molecule on page 4. It is a ladder-like structure, right?
Now look at the two pictures below showing the specific parts of the DNA molecule:

A T

C G

G C

T A

A B

How will you describe the DNA in A? Write down your description in the space below.
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

What you can observe in A is the spiral pattern of the DNA molecule. The two strands or
chains of the DNA are coiled together into what is known as a double helix.

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Now look at B. What you can find in this picture are the three important chemical groups
present in a DNA molecule. These three groups are the phosphate groups, the sugar
molecules and the nitrogenous bases. These groups are joined together to form the building
blocks of the DNA, which are called nucleotides.
Thus a nucleotide is composed of one phosphate group, one sugar and one nitrogenous
base. Since the nucleotide is the building block of the DNA, the DNA is made up of more than
one nucleotide, right? Of course. As a matter of fact, each DNA molecule is made up of
thousands of nucleotides!
Now, look again at B. Let’s locate the components of the nucleotide one by one. Where do
you think are the phosphate groups? They are the spheres found at the outermost portions of the
molecule. Now, write the letter P inside each of these circles. The letter P stands for the
phosphorus atom present in the phosphate group.
Next, try to locate the sugar group. It’s the pentagon attached to two phosphate groups.
Write the letter S on each sugar group. The sugar in DNA is the deoxyribose sugar. The
phosphate groups and the sugar groups make up the “backbone” of the DNA molecule.
The last group is the nitrogenous base. Put a check on all the nitrogenous bases that you can
find. If you checked the structures with letters A, T, C and G, you are correct. These are the
bases that contain several nitrogen atoms. These bases form the “rungs” of the ladder-like
structure of the DNA. They are attached to the sugar groups. A stands for adenine, T for
thymine, C for cytosine and G for guanine.
Look at B again and answer the following questions:
1. How many phosphate groups are on the left side of the structure? ________
on the right side? ________
2. How many deoxyribose sugars are there on the left side? _______
on the right side? ________
3. How many nitrogenous bases are there on the left side? ________
on the right side? ________
4. How many nucleotides are there on the left side? _____________
on the right side? ________

If your answer to all questions is 4, you are absolutely right. You are now familiar with the
parts of the DNA molecule.
After learning the complete parts of the DNA molecule, you must also study its physical
characteristics. Are you ready for the next part of this lesson?

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Physical Characteristics of the DNA Molecule
Each DNA molecule is composed two strands. Look at the illustration below. You are given
two single strands of DNA. How will you make them into a double-stranded structure? You can
do this by joining the two strands, of course. If you join the two, you will indeed form a double-
stranded DNA molecule.

T
A T
G
A
C G
C
C
G C

G A
T A

T
single strands of DNA double-stranded DNA

These two strands are joined together by chemical bonds called hydrogen bonds. These
hydrogen bonds act like glue sticking the two strands to each other through their nitrogenous
bases. The joining is specific—adenine pairs with thymine and cytosine pairs with guanine. Now,
study again the illustration of the double-stranded DNA molecule and answer the following
questions:
1. How many phosphate groups are there? __________________
2. How many sugar groups are there? ______________________
3. How many nitrogenous bases are there? __________________
4. How many nucleotides are there? _______________________

If your answer to all questions is 8, that’s very good. You are now very familiar with the
structure of a double-stranded DNA molecule.

Let’s Review

To further check if you understand the specific pairings of nitrogenous bases, do the
following activity.
Below is a single strand of DNA. Let us call it strand X. Under strand X are blanks. Write
the corresponding base pairs in the blanks provided. The letters that you will write will produce
the complementary strand of strand X. Let’s call it strand W. Some of the bases are written for
you as your guide.

Strand X A C T G G G C T T
Strand W __ __ A C __ __ __ __ __

Compare your answers with mine on the next page.

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Strand X A C T G G G C T T
Strand W T G A C C C G A A

Draw two hydrogen bonds between adenine and thymine, and three bonds between
cytosine and guanine.

Based on the double-stranded DNA that you have made, answer the following questions
and make a conclusion out of it.
1. How many adenine bases are there? ____________
2. How many thymine bases are there? ____________
3. How many cytosine bases are there? ____________
4. How many guanine bases are there? ____________

Now, from your answers to the questions, what conclusion can you make regarding the
pairing of the bases in a DNA molecule?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

The number of adenine bases is equal to the number of thymine bases. The number of
cytosine bases is equal to the number of guanine bases. Did you have the same conclusion?

9
Let’s Learn

The DNA molecule is like a winding ladder. This unique structure of the DNA molecule
was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.
The DNA molecule is very, very long. If you stretch it, there will not be enough room for it
inside the cell. So how do you think the DNA molecule fits inside the nucleus of a cell? The DNA
is coated with histones that contract and make the DNA molecule compact.
Why is the DNA double-stranded? Many scientists believe that this is so because if one
DNA strand is damaged, the other strand
can provide the information required to
repair the damaged strand.
Another interesting physical sugar
characteristic of the DNA molecule is
that the two strands wind in opposite phosphates
directions. The sugars on one strand are
“upside down” compared with those on bases
the other strand. What could be the
reason for this? You’ll find out in the next
part of this lesson.

The structure of the DNA

Don’t Forget!
1. The nucleotides are the building blocks of the DNA.
2. The nucleotide is composed of three important groups:
♦ the phosphate group
♦ the deoxyribose sugar
♦ the nitrogenous bases joined by hydrogen bonds
– Adenine always pairs with thymine.
– Cytosine always pairs with guanine.
3. The DNA is a double-stranded molecule.

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Let’s Learn

The most important characteristic of the DNA molecule is that it is capable of producing an
exact copy of itself. This is the reason why the DNA is considered the genetic material of all living
organisms. Imagine a photocopying machine. What does it do? It produces exact copies of the
original one. You are given a DNA molecule as shown below, draw the two exact copies
produced from it.

original copy copy

Check your drawings. They must look exactly like the original DNA.

The process of making copies of the DNA is called DNA replication. How is this carried
out? Each strand of a parent (original) DNA serves as a template or pattern for the synthesis
(manufacture) of a complementary strand. Do you recall that one unique characteristic of the
DNA molecule is that the two strands wind in opposite directions? The reason for that
characteristic is this: Each strand of the DNA double helix contains the information necessary to
make its complementary strand.
DNA replication can be described in the following manner: First, the double helix unwinds
when the DNA is ready to multiply. The two strands pull apart. Along each strand, a new strand
forms. For example, an original strand is made up of the sequence GCACAA, the new strand
that forms along this strand has the sequence CGTGTT. The other original strand, containing the
sequence CGTGTT, will form a new strand with the sequence GCACAA. Thus, two new DNA
molecules are produced from the original DNA.
The DNA contains the genes in the form of nucleotides. These genes store your genetic
information or your genetic blueprint. You inherited these genes from your parents. These genes
dictate what you look like. Do you know how? Take note that your DNA contains stored genetic
information. This information is copied into an RNA molecule through the process of
transcription. An RNA (ribonucleic acid), unlike the DNA molecule, is a single-strand molecule.
Like DNA, however, it is composed of a phosphate group, a sugar and nitrogenous bases. The
sugar is ribose instead of deoxyribose. The nitrogenous bases are cytosine, guanine, adenine and,
instead of thymine, uracil (U). So if you see a nucleic acid with uracil on it, you will know that it is
RNA and not DNA.

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Let’s check if you can distinguish an RNA from a DNA. Below are sequences of nucleic
acid molecules. Identify whether each is a DNA or an RNA. Write your answers on the lines
provided.
1. AUGCGGAA _________________________________
2. phosphate-ribose-adenine _________________________
3. GATTACA ____________________________________
4. UUUUUU ____________________________________
5. phosphate-deoxyribose-thymine ____________________

Did you get the same answers as these? Numbers 1, 2 and 4 are RNA molecules because
of the presence of uracil and/or ribose sugar. Numbers 3 and 5 are DNA molecules.
The RNA molecule is converted into a protein by the ribosomes. Look again at the
illustration showing a cell on page 5. Locate the ribosomes. Did you see them? The ribosomes
are the dotlike structures on the cell responsible for producing all the proteins needed. Remember
that all processes within the cell are mediated by an enzyme, which is a protein. The building of a
complete and functional cell is regulated by enzymes. So, without the DNA, there would be no
protein, and without the protein, there would no cell.

Let’s See What You Have Learned

Write the letter of the correct answer on the line before each number.
_____ 1. The sugar present in DNA is _____________.
a. glucose c. deoxyribose
b. ribose d. fructose
_____ 2. The nitrogenous base adenine always pairs with _____________.
a. thymine c. guanine
b. cytosine d. none of the above
_____ 3. The building block of DNA and RNA is the _____________.
a. nucleotide c. phosphate
b. sugar d. acid
_____ 4. A nucleic acid with a sequence AGGCCGAU is a/an __________.
a. RNA c. protein
b. DNA d. amino acid
_____ 5. Watson and Crick discovered that the DNA has a ____ structure.
a. single-strand c. double helical
b. supercoiled d. linear

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_____ 6. The chemical bond that joins adenine with thymine and cytosine with
guanine is the __________.
a. covalent bond c. ionic bond
b. hydrogen bond d. metallic acid
_____ 7. The process of multiplication of the DNA molecule is called ____________.
a. DNA transformation c. DNA RNA
b. DNA replication d. DNA reproduction
_____ 8. DNA is made compact by the __________.
a. nitrogeneous base c. hydrogen bond
b. histone d. none of the above
_____ 9. After one round of DNA replication, how many daughter DNA molecules are
produced?
a. two c. four
b. one d. eight
_____ 10. A nitrogenous base linked to a sugar-phosphate backbone is called a ______.
a. nucleic acid c. nucleotide
b. nucleoside d. none of the above

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key on page 30.
Did you get a perfect score? If you did, that’s very good. If not, don’t worry. Just review this
lesson before moving on to Lesson 2.

Let’s Remember

♦ The function of the DNA can be summarized below. Study and always remember the
diagram below.

DNA → RNA → enzymes → parts of the cell → cell

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LESSON 2

Biotechnology

Have you eaten “super rice” or “super corn”? These varieties are far superior to ordinary
rice and corn. These plants can survive in extreme conditions and are resistant to pests. How
about the “super cow” and the “super chicken”? Have you tasted their more nutritious meat?
Have you seen a tomato that doesn’t easily rot? All of these are products of biotechnology.
How do you understand the term biotechnology? Basically, it refers to technology in which
biological processes are involved. It includes the manufacture of more complicated medical
products such as hormones, antibiotics and vaccines. This aspect of biotechnology involves the
manipulation of organisms like bacteria, plants and animals, and their products to perform
important functions or provide useful products. It involves the technique of manipulating the DNA
of an organism. This is called genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technology. This
manipulated DNA is introduced into a DNA of another organism, making it a transgenic
organism. You will understand these concepts better as you go along this lesson.
Nowadays, several useful products are produced through biotechnology. Biotechnology has
done a lot for biological research, medicine, agriculture and even crime-solving procedures.
In this lesson, you will learn the meaning of biotechnology and its practical applications. You
will also learn about cloning and its social, moral and legal implications.

Let’s Read

The following story is about a crime solved through biotechnological techniques. The
techniques used are DNA fingerprinting and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). DNA
fingerprinting is a technique in which an individual’s DNA is analyzed to reveal the pattern of
particular short nucleotide sequences. This pattern is claimed to be unique to the individual
concerned and can thus be used for identification purposes. Polymerase chain reaction, on the
other hand, is a technique used to replicate a DNA fragment so as to produce many copies of a
particular DNA sequence. Why do you think there’s a need to generate several copies of the
DNA? You will learn the answers to this as you go through the story. Read the story carefully and
answer the questions that follow.

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The Case of the Telltale Palo Verde
On the night of May 2, 1992, a woman from Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. was
strangled and her body was dumped near an abandoned factory in the surrounding
desert. Police discovered a pager near the body, making its owner the prime suspect in
the murder. When questioned, the man admitted being with the woman on the day of
the murder, but claimed he had never been near the factory. He suggested that the
woman must have stolen his pager from his pickup truck. A search of the pickup truck
provided the crucial clue. It placed the suspect in the factory. On the truck bed were
two seeds from a palo verde tree.
The palo verde tree is an unusual plant native to the desert of the Southwest. A
member of the bean family, it develops into a small shrubby tree. Well-adapted to the
hot, dry climate, it has very small leaves. To compensate for this, its stems become
green and carry out food production. This adaptation gives the plant its name—palo
verde, which is Spanish for “green stem.” The plant may not resemble beans in some
respects, but like a typical bean, it produces seeds in pods that mature and drop to the
ground.
The homicide investigators assigned to the case asked themselves the following
question: Could it be proven that the seed pods found in the bed of the suspect’s truck
had fallen from one of the palo verde trees close to where the body was found? If so,
it would be a key piece of evidence, placing the suspect at the crime scene and
destroying his alibi. But how could this be demonstrated? The investigators turned to
Dr. Timothy Helentjaris, then at the University of Arizona, in nearby Tucson.
Helentjaris proceeded to determine whether the DNA fingerprint of the seed pods
from the pickup truck matched that of one of the palo verde trees at the crime scene.
Helentjaris knew that to make the match between a seed pod and a tree significant, he
would first have to demonstrate that palo verdes show genetic variation from one tree
to another. Otherwise, it would be impossible to clearly link a given pod to one
particular tree. Fortunately, he found considerable differences in DNA fingerprints
between individual plants.
Helentjaris was then given the two seed pods from the suspect’s truck along with
pods collected by investigators from 12 palo verde trees present in the general vicinity
of the factory. The investigators knew which of the 12 trees was the key one at the
crime scene, but did not tell Helentjaris. He extracted DNA from seeds taken from
each and performed PCR on each sample. The results of this “blind” experiment were
unmistakable. The pattern from one of the pods found in the truck exactly matched the
patterns from only one of the 12 trees, the one nearest the body.
Helentjaris’ analysis was admitted as evidence in the trial, the first time the DNA
fingerprint of a plant had been used in a court case. This information was critical in
placing the suspect at the crime scene. At the completion of the five-week trial, the
suspect was found guilty of first-degree murder. His conviction was upheld upon
appeal, and he is currently serving a life sentence without parole.

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Let’s Think About This

Answer the following questions. You can always go back to what you have read for the
answers.
1. What were the clues that led to the identification of the suspect?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
2. Why do you think the discovery of the seed pods provided the most crucial clue?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
3. What if a strand of hair was found in the truck bed instead of a seed pod, do you think
it will still lead to the identification of the suspect?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
4. What if the strand of hair belonged to the victim, what other clues would you look for?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
5. How did the investigators conclude that the suspect was indeed the murderer?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
6. What do you think are the other uses of DNA fingerprinting?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key on page 30.

Were you able to answer all the questions? If you were, that’s very good! All of the answers
to the questions revolve around the process of DNA fingerprinting. The DNA fingerprint of the
seed pods led to the identification of the murderer. It is a very powerful tool in solving crimes by
determining the fingerprint from any cell or tissue sample left in the crime scene. It can be a hair
strand, blood, semen or skin cells. Aside from identifying the owner of the sample, fingerprinting
can also be used in identifying bodies or even parts of the body that are difficult to be identified
especially after an airplane crash or fire. Can you now imagine how powerful DNA fingerprinting
is?

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Let’s Learn

From the case story, you have learned two methods used in biotechnology—PCR and
DNA fingerprinting. This time, you will learn the different practical applications of biotechnology.

Before you proceed, you should remember the following terms:

♦ Genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technology

– Manipulation or alteration of the DNA of cells or individuals by


removing, inserting or modifying genes

♦ Transgenic organisms

– Organisms that received manipulated DNA from other organisms

Biotechnology in Forensic Science


Do you know what forensic science is? It is the application of science or technology in the
investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law. The case story you have
read is an example of an application of biotechnology in solving a murder case. Blood, semen,
hair or small tissue samples may be found at a crime scene, or on the clothes or other things
owned by the victim or the assailant. Take note that sometimes these samples are available in
small amounts. Since you need an ample amount of these samples, the DNA can be extracted
and multiplied through PCR. DNA fingerprints are then made from these samples. This is a
precise way of identifying the owner of the tissue or cell sample. No two persons have an
identical DNA fingerprint except for identical twins. DNA fingerprinting can identify the guilty
individual with a much higher degree of certainty. Your DNA fingerprint serves as your genetic
ID that tells everything about you.

Production of Human Proteins Using Bacteria


It’s unbelievable but true. Bacterial cells are producing proteins for us. How is it made
possible? Do you have any idea? Just read along and you will learn how.
Are you familiar with diabetes? Do you know anyone who suffers from this condition? It is
a condition characterized by too much glucose in the blood. One possible cause is the lack of
insulin, a protein hormone that removes glucose from the blood.
Did you know that insulin is the first human protein to be manufactured using recombinant
DNA technology or genetic engineering? In this process, two DNA molecules are joined together
and made to produce a protein. The protein is produced by inserting the gene that codes the
insulin into the chromosome of a bacterium. The transgenic or transformed bacterium is then
allowed to reproduce.
To let you understand this topic better, study the illustration given on the next page.

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inserted
insulin DNA

transformed bacteria
bacterium cell division

DNA

As the bacterial cell undergoes successive cell divisions, the cell multiplies together with the
gene that codes the insulin protein. In this way, large quantities of the protein are produced.

Production of Human Proteins Using Livestock

Genie, the transgenic pig

There are disadvantages and difficulties encountered in the production of human proteins
using bacteria. The transformed bacteria can produce complex human proteins, but the proteins
are often not functional and active. What do you think is the disadvantage of this? It is impractical,
of course. To solve this problem, scientists make use of livestock like sheep, cows and pigs.
Let me introduce you to Genie, the transgenic pig. (Please see the picture above.) Genie’s
genes were manipulated to produce the human protein C. The gene for protein C was inserted
into the DNA of Genie’s mammary gland cells. The glands produced milk with large quantities of
functional and active protein C. The protein is now made commercially available for people who
have digestive problems.

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Let’s Try This

Let’s check if you understand the concept of transgenic livestock. Below is an illustration of
the process of producing the human protein C from cells of the mammary glands, the glands that
produce milk. Study it and answer the questions that follow.

cell division

cell A of livestock
cell C of livestock
inserted B that contains
human protein C
DNA

protein C DNA from


humans

In the above illustration, protein C DNA from human beings is inserted into cell A of
livestock. When that cell multiplies, it also makes copies of the protein C DNA for human use.
1. The DNA in cell A is derived from a cell of what gland?
_______________________________________________________________
2. What animal is cell A derived from?
_______________________________________________________________
3. What is produced by the gland?
_______________________________________________________________
4. The process labeled B is called __________.
_______________________________________________________________
5. Cell C has a DNA molecule from two different sources and is called __________.
_______________________________________________________________
6. Cell C will produce milk and __________.
_______________________________________________________________

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key on page 31.

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Let’s Learn

Biotechnology in the Detection and Treatment of Diseases


What would you do if you found out that your television was not working? Or that your
refrigerator couldn’t function anymore? First, you would think that there was something wrong
with these appliances, right? What’s the next step that you would take? You would have the
defective parts repaired so that they would function normally again. If it is beyond repair, you will
remove the defective part and replace it with a functional one.
It is the same thing with the genes present in our chromosomes. If they become defective,
they can be repaired. Medical scientists can now detect diseases using DNA technology such as
PCR before the onset of symptoms or even before birth.
Some diseases such as hemophilia and cystic fibrosis are caused by defective genes. These
diseases can now be treated through gene therapy. The goal of gene therapy is to remove
defective genes in the body and replace them with normal ones. These normal genes are
introduced into the human body. Through this therapy, persons with genetic diseases will have a
greater chance of living long and normal lives.

Let’s Think About This

Is it advisable or ethical to manipulate human genes and cells? To some people, it is wrong
to tamper with human genes in any way even if it is meant for treating life-threatening diseases. To
others, there’s no difference between transplanting genes and transplanting organs.

Ashanti De Silva—the first human being to


successfully undergo gene therapy

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Let’s Learn

Biotechnology and Plant Breeding


This time, imagine you are a plant breeder. You are asked to improve the quality of the
plants listed below. What qualities will you improve in each plant? An example is given to you as
your guide.

Plant Improved Quality or Characteristic

1. rice resistant to pests, drought and insecticides

2. grape

3. papaya

4. corn

5. orchid

6. mango

Before, plant breeding was done by crossing the genes of two plants with desirable
characteristics. This technique has been successful in producing improved varieties of crop plants,
but it is time consuming and complicated. Because of genetic engineering, these problems can
now be avoided. Plants are inserted with “super” genes to exhibit improved or better traits
compared to their ordinary counterparts. These plants are therefore called transgenic plants.
Listed below are examples of genetically engineered or modified plants:
1. flavor-savor tomatoes
These tomatoes do not soften or ripen easily. Thus, they can stay fresh longer and
can be transported without rotting.
2. herbicide-resistant crops
These are plants that are resistant to herbicides, making it possible for herbicides
to kill weeds without harming the plants.
3. pest-resistant cotton plants
4. virus-resistant plants
5. drought-resistant plants
6. a more nutritious soybean variety
7. flowers that stay fresh longer by inhibiting the decaying process
8. edible vaccines
Vaccines are molecules that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that
will counteract disease-causing organisms entering the body. The vaccine gene is
inserted into the leaves and fruits of plants. The fruits and leaves are eaten by persons
requiring vaccination. Plant-produced vaccines are inexpensive and do not require
injection.

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Transgenic plants have traits that make them better than ordinary plants.

Transgenic plants may look like ordinary plants. But because they express DNA derived
from other species, they have desirable traits that make them grow faster, last longer and more
resistant to infection.

Let’s Think About This

Can you imagine the great advantage that genetically engineered plants present? Just imagine
a corn that is so sweet and nutritious, rice that can be produced and harvested in any season,
vegetables that stay fresh longer and flowers that take a long time to wilt. Do you think the
problem of lack of food will be solved? Do you think that there will be no famines anymore?

Let’s Learn

Biotechnology and Animal Breeding


Biotechnology has also influenced animal breeding in the same way it has revolutionized
plant breeding. Before, breeding processes were very tiresome, difficult and complicated. Animal
breeders tried to mate animals from different species with superior characteristics. They were
able to cross-breed a horse and a donkey to produce the mule. Unfortunately, all the mule
offspring were sterile, and thus could not reproduce.
Biotechnology has helped breeders produce better and superior breeds of animals, as well
as increase their productivity. The genes of these animals are manipulated to produce vaccines,
antibodies and growth hormones. For example, some cattle are injected with a recombinant form
of the bovine growth hormone. A recombinant is one that comes from different sources of
genes combined through genetic engineering. Injection of the recombinant bovine growth
hormone is meant to supplement a cow’s natural levels of bovine growth hormone. This increases
the weight of the animal and raises production by 10%.
In fishes like salmon and rainbow trout, the growth hormone can increase the size of the fish
at a higher rate.

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In genetically engineered cows and pigs, there is a corresponding increase in usable meat
supply per unit of food intake.
Through biotechnology, “super chickens” are produced. These are chickens that grow
faster, with a higher quality of meat and can lay a greater number of larger eggs.
Current animal breeding programs employ the technique of eliminating inherited animal
disorders through selective breeding.

Let’s Read

Dolly is the world’s first cloned mammal. She was the first large animal cloned from genetic
material taken from an adult egg. Ever since Scottish scientists announced her birth in 1996, her
life has been closer to that of a rock superstar than that of a Finn Dorset sheep. Her castoff, a
sweater knitted from her wool, is a treasured showpiece in a museum. The newspapers fell over
themselves to dig up the slightest details of her life. Her sexual liaisons made major news (“Dolly’s
baby’s Bonnie — but who is her dad?”). And, to save her nerves, she was shielded from the
glaring flashes of the media men.
Now, in the fourth year of Dollymania,
it seems a fair time to ask whether she was
really worth all that fuss. And the answer,
everyone seems to agree, is yes. Initially, the
uproar was mostly based on shock—no one
really saw cloning adult animals as anything
but an interesting premise for science fiction.
Faced with the reality, biologists, doctors,
lawyers, ethicists and religious leaders sat
down and seriously thought about how the
world might change.
But as time goes by, the cloning
technology that brought Dolly into the world
has shown that it isn’t a one-hit wonder. Dolly, the cloned sheep, and her lamb Bonnie
Researchers are now producing clones from
fetal cells with relative ease. Others have shown they can combine cloning and genetic engineering
to produce cows and sheep that have curative proteins. There seems to be no doubt that our
future is a future filled with clones.
In fact, nearly every month, there’s news of how cloning technology is poised to change our
lives. From agriculture to medicine, from psychology to law, cloning is sure to affect every aspect
of the future.
What molecular magic makes cloning possible? What would it be like to be an exact copy
of your parent? Is anyone working toward human cloning? Could cloning be the end of humanity
and the start of something quite different?

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Let’s Learn

Below is an illustration of Megan and Morag—the first sheep clones created from a single
developing embryo.

What is cloning? Cloning is the process of producing exact replicas or copies (clones) of
an original. It is like having yourself photocopied several times. The clones are copies of yourself.
Can you imagine being with one or more people who look exactly like you?
There are several cloning methods— DNA or gene cloning, cell cloning, embryo cloning
and adult DNA cloning.
DNA or gene cloning is carried out through polymerase chain reaction. Do you recall how
this process is carried out? PCR involves making many copies of a DNA fragment.
Another method of cloning is cell cloning. This process produces cell clones that are
derived from a single cell. Some of the cells of our body, such as the B cells and T cells of the
immune system, normally multiply through cloning.
Embryo cloning involves the removal of one or more cells from an embryo. Do you know
what an embryo is? It is the structure formed after the egg cell of a female organism is fertilized
by the sperm cell of a male organism. The fertilized egg cell undergoes cell division and produces
an embryo. Embryo cloning allows the cells from the embryo to develop into separate embryos
with the same genetic material (DNA) as the original embryo.
Adult DNA cloning involves the removal of DNA from an embryo and replacing it with
DNA from adult organism. The embryo is then allowed to develop into a new organism with the
same DNA as the adult donor. This technique is employed in cloning mammals such as cows and
sheep. This is the cloning technique used to produce Dolly.

The Moral, Legal and Social Implications of Cloning


The successful cloning of Dolly is one of the most controversial scientific experiments in our
time. It has become a public issue that excited and alarmed scientists, religious people, doctors,
legal experts and the media. The fear of many people is that since cloning sheep and other
mammals has been successful, scientists involved in cloning research might apply this cloning
technique to human beings. Government and regulatory agencies such as the National Bioethics
Advisory Commission (NBAC) in the U.S.A. have been established to monitor cloning research.
These agencies also aim to determine and weigh the moral, legal and social implications of cloning
research by setting guidelines and limitations. Today, research into cloning of human embryos is
restricted in the United States, the United Kingdom and a few other countries.

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Just like any other issue, the acceptability of cloning has two sides to it. There are some
people who are for cloning while there are some who are against it.
Let us now learn the different implications of cloning. Understand each implication so that
later you can determine if you are for cloning or not.

Moral Implications
Some people believe that cloning is morally acceptable. Why? Because cloning would
enable infertile couples to have children of their own. What if you find out that you and your
spouse cannot have children because one or both of you have defective reproductive organs?
Will you resort to human cloning?
Religious people believe that cloning is against God’s will. Cloning a human being is just like
playing God, according to them.

Legal Implications
To some legal experts, banning cloning is unconstitutional. It deprives people of their right to
reproduce. What if some couples can only bring a child into this earth through cloning? Will you
deprive them of that right? It would also deprive scientists of their right to experimentation. On the
other hand, to anti-cloning groups, some aspects of human life should be off-limits to science.

Social Implications
Cloning can help scientists discover how to treat certain diseases. In terms of safety, cloning
is safer than genetic engineering. On the other hand, to some people, cloning could result in the
introduction of new kinds of genetic defects. According to anti-cloning groups, cloning is unsafe
because clones are more likely to develop life-threatening diseases and genetic defects than
normal offspring. Objections to cloning are similar to objections raised against heart transplants
and test-tube babies before. As you can see, these procedures are now widely accepted. Later
on, you might be able to have parts of your body cloned. These cloned parts can be made
available for your own use in case you lose a body organ to a disease or an accident. Would you
consider that beneficial or harmful?
Cloning might lead to the creation of people for warfare and slavery. Clones might be used
by unscrupulous individuals to grab power and wealth. Do you think this is possible?
Cloning might also lead to attempts to improve the human race. This entails elimination of the
bad traits and the flourishing of the good and beautiful characteristics of a person. Thus, a perfect
human race will come into being. Imagine, the people walking on the streets will all be physically
fit, intelligent, beautiful, strong and probably rich. If you have “unpleasant” traits, you would be
considered an outcast.
Another social implication of cloning is that it might change the social perspective of the
family. Cloning is at odds with the traditional concept of the family.
You have just found out the moral, legal and social implication of cloning. Consider the
advantages and disadvantages of cloning. Are you in favor of cloning or against it? Why?
Write your answer on a separate sheet of paper.

25
Let’s See What You Have Learned

1. Give 2 proteins produced by transgenic organisms.


a. ___________________________________________________________
b. ___________________________________________________________

2. Give 4 examples of transgenic plants and their improved qualities.


a. ___________________________________________________________
b. ___________________________________________________________
c. ___________________________________________________________
d. ___________________________________________________________

3. Give 4 examples of transgenic animals and their improved qualities.


a. ___________________________________________________________
b. ___________________________________________________________
c. ___________________________________________________________
d. ___________________________________________________________

4. Why is it necessary to clone DNA and genes?


_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

5. Give one legal issue raised over cloning.


_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

6. Give one moral issue raised over cloning.


_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

7. Give one social issue concerning cloning.


_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

8. What is the name of the first animal cloned from an adult mammal?
_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key on pages 31 and 32.

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Let’s Remember

♦ Biotechnology is technology that involves biological processes. It has grown to include


the manufacture of more complicated medical products such as hormones, antibiotics
and vaccines. This aspect of biotechnology involves genetic engineering or recombinant
DNA technology, which is the manipulation of the DNA of an organism.
♦ Biotechnology has many practical applications in different fields. These include:
• forensic science
• production of human proteins using bacteria and livestock
• detection and treatment of diseases
• plant breeding
• animal breeding
♦ Cloning is the process of making identical copies of a given gene, DNA or even an
entire organism. The possibility of human cloning has many moral, legal and social
implications which have caused it to become a very controversial issue.

You have now reached the end of the module. Congratulations! Did you enjoy studying this
module? Did you learn a lot from it? The following is a summary of its main points to help you
remember them better.

Let’s Sum Up

This module tells us that:


♦ The DNA is a double-stranded nucleic acid found inside the chromosomes in the
nucleus of the cell. It carries hereditary information and actively participates in cell
reproduction. It is thus considered the genetic material of the cell.
♦ The building block of the DNA is the nucleotide, which is made up of phosphate
groups, sugars and nitrogenous bases.
♦ In DNA replication, the two strands of the DNA double helix pull apart and along
each strand, a complementary strand forms.
♦ Biotechnology is technology that involves biological processes. Because of genetic
engineering, it has broadened to include the manufacture of complicated medical
products such as antibodies, vaccines and hormones. It has many applications in
forensic science, plant and animal breeding, detection and treatment of diseases as well
as the production of human proteins from livestock and bacteria.
♦ Cloning is a very controversial issue that has many moral, legal and social implications.

27
What Have You Learned?

A. Identify what is being described in each statement.


______________ 1. This is a protein found together with the DNA inside the
chromosomes.
______________ 2. These are the building blocks of the DNA molecule.
______________ 3. It is a technique in which an individual’s DNA is analyzed to
reveal the unique pattern of particular short nucleotide sequences.
______________ 4. It is also known as recombinant DNA technology.
______________ 5. She is the first animal to have been cloned from an adult mammal.
______________ 6. This is an organism that has received and expresses a gene that
came from other organisms.
______________ 7. This is a single-strand nucleic acid that is composed of phosphate
groups, sugars and nitrogeneous bases.
______________ 8. This nitrogenous base always pairs with guanine.
______________ 9. Its goal is to replace defective genes in the body with normal
ones.
______________10. It is a technique used to replicate a DNA fragment so as to
produce many copies of a particular DNA sequence.

B. Answer the following questions


1. What are the benefits derived from biotechnology?
_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

2. Give some advantages and disadvantages of human cloning.


_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key on pages 32 and 33.
If you got a score of
0–5 You should study the whole module again.
6–9 Good! Just review the parts of the module that you did not understand very well.
10–12 Very good! You learned a lot from this module.

28
Answer Key

A. Let’s See What You Already Know (pages 2–3)


A. 1. The DNA molecule can be described as a ladder-like structure with two
strands coiled in a double helix.
2. Choose any of the following:
a. The DNA contains the genes in the form of nucleotides.
b. The DNA carries hereditary information.
3. The DNA is considered the genetic material of all living things because all
living things contain DNA in their chromosomes and the genes in the DNA
dictate how each living thing looks.
4. Biotechnology is technology that involves biological processes.
5. Choose any of the following:
a. Biotechnology can help solve crimes and present solid evidence in a
court of law.
b. Biotechnology helps improve the qualities of plants and animals.
c. Biotechnology can help prevent and treat diseases.
6. Cloning is the process of producing identical copies of a given gene, DNA
or organism.

B. 1. b
2. a
3. c
4. b
5. c
6. c

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B. Lesson 1
Let’s See What You Have Learned (pages 12–13)
1. c
2. a
3. a
4. a
5. c
6. b
7. b
8. b
9. a
10. c

C. Lesson 2

Let’s Think About This (page 16)


1. A pager found near the body of the victim belonged to the suspect. Another clue
was the two seeds from a palo verde tree.
2. The two seeds would tell the investigators if the suspect had been in the factory
where the victim was murdered. The seeds were found in the bed of the suspect’s
truck.
3. Yes, any piece of evidence that could be studied through DNA fingerprinting and
which would establish that the suspect was with the victim when she was killed
would help.
4. Other pieces of evidence could be blood or even skin tissues.
5. The investigators were able to conclude that the suspect was indeed the murderer
when the DNA fingerprint of the two seeds showed that they came from the
palo verde tree in the vicinity of the factory, and that this tree was the one nearest
the body of the victim.
6. DNA fingerprints can also be used as evidence in paternity suits, or lawsuits that
seek to determine who the real father of a child is.

30
Let’s Try This (page 19)
1. mammary gland
2. pig
3. milk
4. genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technology
5. transgenic
6. human protein C

Let’s See What You Have Learned (page 26)


1 a. insulin
b. human protein C

2. Choose four of the following:


♦ flavor-savor tomatoes—do not ripen easily
♦ rice—herbicide- and insect-resistant
♦ corn—pest- and drought-resistant
♦ super corn and super rice— with high nutritional values
♦ plants that contain vaccines

3. Choose four from the following:


♦ pigs that produce milk containing the human protein C
♦ fish with higher quality of meat
♦ chickens that can produce larger eggs
♦ livestock that can produce vaccines, antibodies and growth hormones

4. It is necessary to clone DNA or genes because sometimes the amount available


is not enough for studies. So instead of extracting DNA from organisms, the small
sample is increased through cloning processes such as the polymerase chain
reaction.

31
5. Choose any of the folllowing:
♦ Banning cloning is unconstitutional.
♦ Banning cloning deprives some people of their choice to reproduce.

6. Choose any of the folllowing:


♦ It is against God’s will.
♦ It will let infertile couples have children of their own.
♦ It will give couples who carry defective genes the chance to have normal
children.

7. Choose any of the folllowing:


♦ It will help scientists discover ways of treating diseases.
♦ It might introduce new kinds of diseases.
♦ It is unsafe.
♦ It might be used by unscrupulous individuals to create people for warfare
and slavery.

8. Dolly

D. What Have You Learned? (page 28)


A. 1. histone
2. nucleotides
3. DNA fingerprinting
4. genetic engineering
5. Dolly
6. transgenic organism
7. RNA/ribonucleic acid
8. cytosine
9. gene therapy
10. polymerase chain reaction

32
B. (Answers may be stated in various ways. The following are sample answers.)
1. The benefits derived form biotechnology include the production of complex
human proteins from livestock, which helps in providing people suffering
from protein deficiencies these much-needed proteins. Another benefit is
that there are now better breeds of animals and plants produced through
biotechnology. Also, biotechnological techniques such as PCR and DNA
fingerprinting can help solve crimes and present solid evidence in a court of
law. Biotechnology can also help in the detection and treatment of certain
diseases.
2. Human cloning can help childless couples have their own children. Human
cloning can also readily produce organs to replace defective organs. Making
human clones also makes possible extensive research into all kinds of
diseases and may help scientists come up with cures for these diseases. One
disadvantage of human cloning is that it can be used by unscrupulous
individuals to grab power and wealth. Also, some scientists say that clones
are more likely to develop life-threatening diseases and defects than normal
offspring.

Glossary

Biotechnology Technology that involves biological applications.


Cloning The process of producing identical copies of a given gene, DNA, cell or
organism.
Daughter cells The identical copies of a parent cell.
DNA The chemical substance that contains the genes.
DNA fingerprint The unique DNA sequence present in an individual.
DNA replication The process of DNA multiplication.
Forensic science The application of science in solving legal problems.
Gene therapy The process of removing defective genes and replacing them with normal
ones.
Genetic engineering The process of manipulating the DNA of an organism.
Histones Proteins associated with the DNA molecule, responsible for making the
chromosome structure compact.
Hydrogen bond The chemical bond that holds nitrogenous bases together.
Nucleotide The building block of DNA and RNA; composed of a phosphate group, a
sugar and a nitrogenous base.
Phosphate Composed of phosphorus atoms and oxygen atoms; present in nucleotides.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) The process of multiplying a DNA sequence.

33
Recombinant DNA technology See genetic engineering.
Ribose The sugar present in an RNA molecule.
Transcription The process of producing RNA molecules from DNA.
Transgenic An organism that contains an inserted DNA from another organism.

References

Campbell NA. Biology. 4th ed. U.S.A.: The Benjamin Cummings Publishing Co., Inc.,
1996.
Cheremisinoff, P.N. and R.P. Ouellette. Biotechnology:Applications and Research.
U.S.A.: Technomic Publishing Company, Inc., 1985.
Klug, W.S. and M.R. Cummings. Concepts of Genetics. 5th ed. U.S.A.: Prentice Hall-
International, Inc., 1997.

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