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Shotgun approach to genetic engineering.

Shotgun approach to genetic engineering

Researchers have developed a "shotgun'to bombard cells with microscopic tungsten pellets coated with genetic material--either DNA or RNA. In the May 7 NATURE, they report that onion cells pierced by the high-velocity 4-micron pellets not only survived without apparent injury, but also went on to "express' the genes they carried.

Expression of foreign genes suggestsbut does not prove that the bombarded cells have permanently incorporated the new genetic material, explains principal researcher Theodore M. Klein of Cornell University's horticultural sciences department in Geneva, N.Y. He adds that follow-up studies to prove permanent incorporation "look encouraging.' A demonstration of gene incorporation would add this technique to the arsenal of genetic engineering tools available for inserting beneficial foreign genes into useful crop species.

Inside their shotgun's cylinder, whichis about the size of a .22-caliber rifle barrel, a firing pin detonates a gunpowder-filled blank. This propels a nylon bullet, which doesn't exit the cylinder but instead slams into the pellets of tungsten powder, sending them and the genetic material they carry into 2,000 or more separate cells.

"With this technique,' says Klein,"we're going to be able to genetically engineer a lot of crop species [especially cereal grains] that are not amenable to other [gene-insertion] techniques.'
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Title Annotation:bombardment with high-velocity pellets used in gene incorporation
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:May 16, 1987
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