What is recombinant DNA (rDNA)?
Recombinant DNA is found in:
- Molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell; or
- Molecules that result from the replication of DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell.
Because of their relative recent development, it is very difficult to assess the risks associated with their use in the laboratory.
Synthetic DNA segments which are likely to yield a potentially harmful polynucleotide or polypeptide (e.g., a toxin or a pharmacologically active agent) are considered as equivalent to their natural DNA counterpart. If the synthetic DNA segment is not expressed in vivo as a biologically active polynucleotide or polypeptide product, it is exempt from the NIH Guidelines.
Genomic DNA of plants and bacteria that have acquired a transposable element, even if the latter was donated from a recombinant vector no longer present, are subject to the NIH Guidelines if the transposon itself contains recombinant DNA.
rDNA Oversight: The Institutional Biosafety Committee
UVM, in accordance with the requirements of the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules, has established an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) to oversee the use of rDNA in its laboratories.
The IBC, made up of experienced faculty and staff, reviews and approves research proposals involving biological toxins, infectious agents, and recombinant DNA work. All protocols, in which recombinant DNA or potentially infectious agents will be used, regardless of the funding source, must be submitted to the Institutional Biosafety Committee for review. Incomplete oversight could result in loss of institutional funding from NIH. The UVM IBC can be contacted at email@example.com
NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Work (132 pages, in PDF format)
Last Updated: February 19, 2007