Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Restriction Enzyme

Any enzyme capable of nicking or breaking down DNA molecules at specific points. Restriction enzymes are used in biotechnology as molecular scissors to cut DNA at specific points so that DNA from different organisms can be recombined. The first restriction enzymes were isolated from bacteria. The nick point is a sequence of 4-12 bps that is not recognized by any endogenous enzyme. The original and natural function of such enzymes is to restrict the growth of certain invading phages within bacteria by cleavage and inactivation of the phage. Aka restriction endonuclease.

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