Biotechnology Dictionary

If you are in the business of biotech, the alphabet soup of similar-sounding or re-purposed terms can be quite confusing. Principle Point offers our biotech and medical dictionary of more than 1,000 terms, which will be updated periodically as needed. Please let us know if you think we should add a term or if an existing definition needs clarification.

Cellular oncogene (proto-oncogene)

A cellular oncogene, or proto-oncogene, is a normal gene that when improperly expressed contributes to the development of cancer.

Centers of origin (of a crop)

Center of origin of a crop species is the geographic location where the oldest cultivation of a crop has been identified.

Central dogma

Central dogma describes Francis Crick's concept that genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to protein.


Centrifugation is a laboratory process using centrifugal forces generated by a spinning rotor to separate molecules by size or density.


A centromere is the central portion of a chromosome where spindle fibers attach during cell division (both mitosis and meiosis).


Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment where toxic chemicals are administered to the patient to kill malignant cells.


Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic that interferes with protein synthesis.


A chromatid is one of a pair of daughter strands of a duplicated chromosome, the pair being joined during mitosis and meiosis at the centromere.


A chromosome is a long, single, tightly coiled strand of DNA molecule, folded into a condensed structure around histone proteins or histone-like proteins.

Chromosome walking

Chromosome walking is the molecular biology laboratory technique that uses a flanking genetic marker to identify successive, overlapping clones spanning a chromosomal region.


A cistron is a DNA sequence coding for a unique polypeptide; a gene.


A clone is an exact genetic replica of a specific gene or organism.


Cloning is the replication of a cell and its genetic content through mitotic division, producing an identical daughter cell, or clone.

Coat protein (capsid)

A coat protein, or capsid, is the outer coating that encloses the nucleic acid core of a virus.


A codon is a group of three nucleotides that corresponds to one of the 20 amino acids during protein synthesis (translation of an mRNA into a polypeptides).


A coenzyme is a biochemical (such as a vitamin) required for an enzyme-catalyzed reaction to occur.  See Cofactor.


A cofactor is a biochemical (such as a vitamin) required for an enzyme-catalyzed reaction to occur.  See Coenzyme.


A colony is a group of cloned cells that all derive from a single parent cell.


Commensalism is the close relationship between different organisms where one organism benefits from the association and other organisms are unaffected. See Parasitism, Symbiosis.


Competency is the state of a bacterial cell in which it is able to take up foreign DNA, such as in a molecular biology lab.


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