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Market profile: restriction enzymes.

Restriction enzymes, also known as restriction endonucleases, are a group of enzymes that cleave DNA molecules at specific sites. Restriction enzymes are primarily found in bacteria, which use enzymes as a defense mechanism against viral DNA/RNA, chopping it up into small, restricted and non-functional pieces. Restriction enzymes are complex proteins ranging in size from 200 to 1400 amino acids. A restriction enzyme makes two incisions, one through each phosphate backbone of the double helix DNA molecule. Some restriction enzymes cut straight across the double helix, referred to as "blunt" ends; however, many cleave a DNA molecule at different sites, resulting in overhanging pieces of single-stranded DNA called "sticky ends." When mixed with other DNA possessing the complementary sequence to the "sticky ends," they recombine to form a new DNA molecule or recombinant DNA.

There are three main types of restriction enzymes: Type I, Type II and Type III. Type I and Type III enzymes are large, complex and multi-subunit enzymes that cut DNA randomly, far from their recognition site. These enzymes have little practical research value as they do not produce coherent restriction fragments.

Accounting for the vast majority of restriction enzymes used in labs, Type II enzymes cut the DNA at specific positions with precision and repeatability. Restriction enzymes seek a specific sequence, typically between four and eight bases in length, and cut the DNA at this location, creating discrete restriction fragments. Scientists can harness this phenomenon for genomic research.

Because of their ability to cleave DNA at specific recognition sites, restriction enzymes have played an integral role in cloning, which is perhaps their most common application. To perform genetic cloning, restriction enzymes snip out the gene of interest, which is spliced into a plasmid. DNA ligases then join the DNA molecules with "sticky ends" to bacterial plasmids that also have been cleaved by restriction enzymes. Other applications for restriction enzymes include DNA sequencing, gene mapping, gene therapeutics, forensics, PCR and routine DNA analysis.

There are thousands of restriction enzymes commercially available that can recognize about 200 sequence combinations. Most vendors custom design a protein. Invitrogen, Sigma-Aldrich and Promega are among the firms that sell restriction enzymes. Other companies include Jena Biosciences, New England Laboratories, MSJ BioLynx, GE Healthcare and Takara Bio, which recently acquired BD Biosciences' Clontech (see IBO 7/15/05).

The market for restriction enzymes is expected to surpass $300 million in 2005 and continues to be fueled by genomic and proteomic applications, particularly in the biotech and academic sectors. In addition, restriction enzymes are closely tied to dynamic technologies like PCR and microarrays, which have continued to post solid growth.

Restriction Enzymes at a Glance:

Leading Suppliers

* Invitrogen

* Sigma-Aldrich

* P omega

Largest Markets

* Biotech

* Academia

* Pharmaceutical

Enzyme Cost

* $0.01 $0.50
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Date:Nov 30, 2005
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