ISPE Glossary of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Terminology

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A virus that infects bacteria. Also called simply phage. Altered forms are used in DNA cloning work, where they are convenient vectors. The bacteriophages most used are derived from two “wild” phages, called M13 and lambda.

Lambda phages are used to clone segments of DNA in the range of around 10-20 kb. They are lytic phages, i.e., they replicate by lysing their host cell and releasing more phages. On a bacteriological plate, this results in a small clear zone – a plaque. Some lambda vectors have also been developed which are expression vectors. The M13 system can grow inside a bacterium, so that it does not destroy the cell it infects but causes it to make new phages continuously. It is a single-stranded DNA phage, and is used for the Sanger di-deoxy DNA sequencing method. Both of these phages grow on Escherichia coli as a host bacterium.

Publication Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publication Date: 1999

See also: Phage

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