Knocking out genes is a technique which researchers and scientists use when the want to find out
which gene is responsible for production of which protein. In a human body there are around 20,500 different genes that each gene is responsible for making a protein because they are known to be the building blocks for different components of the body be it muscles or bones or brain and more. Apparently, our body is made up proteins. Every gene is responsible for producing a different type of protein and the knocking out technique only helps scientists figure out who is responsible for what.
Knocking out a Gene
The scientists first find out genes with some serious mutation or mistake or create one if needed. These genes are dud genes and do not contribute a bit in production of protein. Now, this gene is injected into the DNA of a healthy cell. The scientists attach a tag called reporter gene to it for identification purpose of whether they have been accepted by the cell. Another identification of reporter genes is that the proteins they produce often glow in blue or green. The scientists apparently fool the DNA in a way. A DNA a we know is made up of long strand of genes and these genes can get damaged but the DNA has an inbuilt mechanism to fix the issue. With the help of a cellular tool box the scientist insert the knocked out gene into the DNA. They do this very smartly by making it look like a perfect copy of the surrounding gene that is to be replaced in that DNA. This disguise of sorts fold the DNA repair system and its swaps the dud gene for the old healthy gene, thus knocking out the original gene.
Some times scientists do not have to swap the gene fully. They can simply insert the reporter gene into the DNA they wish to get rid of, randomly. Now, the reporter gene is wedged in the middle of the old gene. Now, there is an all new piece of DNA inside and if a cell goes to read the gene, the instructions would not make sense to the cell due to its presence there. It would not use the gene to make a protein.
The scientist keep a watch on the process. They observe the working in case it is yeast or bacterium but if it is an embryo, scientists observe on how the animal or plant growth differs from other normal ones.
Today, scientists use different techniques to knock out the genes of any organism they want to. It could be mice or bacteria or for that matter even plants that have knocked out genes. Well, scientists today can knock out even human cells growing in the labs.
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