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.

Diploid cell

A diploid cell is a cell which contains two copies of each chromosome. See Haploid cell.

Directional cloning

Directional cloning is a molecular biology technique where a DNA insert and vector molecules are digested with two different restriction enzymes to create noncomplementary sticky ends at either end of each restriction fragment. This allows the insert to be ligated to the vector in a specific... [ read more ]

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is an organic acid and polymer composed of four nitrogenous bases--adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine linked via intervening units of phosphate and the pentose sugar deoxyribose. DNA is the genetic material of most organisms and usually exists as a double-... [ read more ]

DNA diagnosis

DNA diagnosis involves the use of DNA polymorphisms to detect the presence of a disease gene.

DNA fingerprint

DNA fingerprint is the unique pattern of DNA fragments identified by Southern hybridization (using a probe that binds to a polymorphic region of DNA) or by polymerase chain reaction (using primers flanking the polymorphic region).

DNA ligase

DNA ligase is a specific type of enzyme that facilitates the joining of DNA strands together by catalyzing the formation of a phosphodiester bond... [ read more ]

DNA polymerase

DNA polymerase is a cellular or viral polymerase enzyme that synthesizes DNA molecules from ... [ read more ]

DNA polymorphism

A DNA polymorphism is one of two or more alternate forms (alleles) of a chromosomal locus that differ in nucleotide sequence or have variable numbers of repeated nucleotide units. (See Allele.)

DNA sequencing

DNA sequencing includes a number of biochemical procedures for determining the nucleotide sequence of a DNA fragment.

DNase (deoxyribonuclease)

DNase (deoxyribonuclease) is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolytic cleavage of phosphodiester linkages in the DNA backbone. See Nuclease.


An allele is said to be dominant if it expresses its phenotype even in the presence of a recessive allele. See Allele, Phenotype, Recessive.

Dominant-acting oncogene

A dominant(-acting) oncogene stimulates cell proliferation and oncogenesis when present as a single copy.

Double helix

Double helix describes the basic physical structure of DNA.  Antiparallel strands of DNA coil together to form a spiral structure with paired bases from opposite strands forming hydrogen bonds and the sugar-phosphate backbone forms the connecting strand.

Double-stranded complementary DNA

Double-stranded complementary DNA describes duplex DNA molecule copied from a cDNA template.


In molecular biology, 'downstream' describes nucleic acid sequences extending in the 3' direction from a location.

Duplex DNA

Duplex DNA is double-stranded DNA.


Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with each other and with the surrounding environment.


An ecosystem includes all organisms in a population as well as the biotic and abiotic factors that impact them.


Electrophoresis is a laboratory technique for separating molecules in a sample mixture according to their electric charge, which can also correlate with molecular size.  Samples are typically drawn through a porous, polymerized gel that is fixed between poles in an electrical field.


Electroporation is a technique used in transforrning DNA during which a high voltage pulse creates pores in cell membranes, allowing foreign DNA to pass into the cell.


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