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.

Complementary DNA or RNA

Complementary DNA or RNA is the polynucleotide sequence that naturally hydrogen-bonds to another sequence to make double-stranded DNA or RNA. (See DNA, RNA.)

Complementary nucleotides

Complementary nucleotides have a natural hydrogen-bonding affinity to one another, such as guanine-cytosine, adenine-thymine, and adenine-uracil pairings that make up DNA and RNA. (See nucleotide.)


A concatemer is a segment of DNA where sequence repeats are linked end-to-end.


Conjugation is the process of combining two different bacterial cells where the chromosomal material is exchanged.

Constitutive promoter

A constitutive promoter is not regulated, allowing its associated gene to be continually transcribed. (See Promoter.)

Contiguous (contig) map

A contiguous (contig) map is the alignment of multiple genomic sequences into a single, continuous DNA sequence, often from massively parallel sequencing efforts from adjacent chromosomal regions. (See Mapping.)

Copy DNA (cDNA)

Copy DNA (cDNA) is assembled from an RNA template with reverse transcriptase.  Since DNA is more stable than RNA in aqueous buffers, cDNA is often used to archive and analyze gene expression libraries (mRNA) as a cDNA library.  See cDNA, cDNA library.


Cross-hybridization is the annealing of two single-stranded DNA sequences that are only partially complementary.


Cross-pollination is fertilization of between plants with different genetic makeup.


During meiosis, crossing-over involves exchanging DNA sequences between chromatids of homologous chromosomes.


A culture is any of several organisms being grown in a laboratory medium.

Cyclic AMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate)

Cyclic AMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) is a molecule involved in signal transduction from extracellular growth factors to intracellular metabolic pathways.


Cytogenetics is the study that relates the appearance and behavior of chromosomes to genetic phenomenon.


Dalton is a unit of measurement equal to the mass of a hydrogen atom, 1.67 x 10E-24 gram/L (Avogadro's number).


Denature means to induce structural alterations that disrupt the biological activity of a molecule. Often refers to breaking hydrogen bonds between base pairs in double-stranded nucleic acid molecules to produce in single-stranded polynucleotides or altering the secondary and tertiary structure... [ read more ]

Density gradient centrifugation

Density gradient centrifugation is high-speed centrifugation in which molecules "float" at a point where their density equals that in a gradient of cesium chloride or sucrose. (See Centrifugation.)

Deoxyribonucleic acid

Deoxyribonucleic acid. See DNA.


Diabetes is a disease associated with the absence or reduced levels of insulin, a hormone essential for the transport of glucose to cells.


A dideoxynucleotide is similar to natural deoxynucleotides that make up DNA, but lacks a 3' hydroxyl group and is thus unable to form a 3'-5' phosphodiester bond necessary for chain elongation. Dideoxynucleotides are used in DNA sequencing (dye termination methods) and the treatment of viral... [ read more ]


In molecular biology, to digest is to cut DNA molecules with one or more restriction endonucleases.


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