Molecular biology

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Structural model of a section from the DNA double helix (B-shape) with 20 base pairs.

The molecular biology is the study of the structure and function of biological macromolecules, is concerned as such with the structure, biosynthesis and function of DNA and RNA at the molecular level and examined how these with each other and proteins interact. The research area of ​​molecular biology overlaps more and more with other fields of biology and chemistry , in particular (molecular) genetics and biochemistry . The boundaries between these specialist areas are often fluid. The name for this subject was already used in the 1930s, but it was not until 1952 that the English physicist and molecular biologist William Astbury coined it decisively.

Fields of work

Important fields of work are research into gene expression and gene regulation at all levels ( epigenetics , transcription , translation ) and research into the function of proteins in the cell. In particular, the interaction between DNA and proteins in the cell is a main focus. This is intended to improve the basic understanding of the processes in a cell.

The data obtained can in turn be used in a large number of other fields. For example, with the help of molecular biological data it is possible to better understand diseases and to improve the precise mode of action and development of drugs . The elucidation of the genetic information by sequencing the DNA and RNA enables essential insights into the evolution of living things . In many cases, the family trees of the system of living beings developed on the basis of morphological and fossil-based systems are confirmed or refuted by sequence data. After all, genetic engineering makes it possible to change the genetic makeup of organisms . For example, hormones and other endogenous substances in humans, but also other new drugs ( biotechnology ) can be produced in bacteria or farm animals . The gene therapy is concerned with the correction of disease-causing genetic defects and discharged via special methods proper gene sequences (vectors) to replace defective sections in the DNA one. In the field of plant breeding, genetic engineering is already being used to smuggle in genes for disease resistance or defense mechanisms against predators or competing plants, so that, among other things, the corresponding substances are formed by the plants themselves.

Molecular biological research institutes in German-speaking countries that deal with this include the European Molecular Biology Laboratory , various Max Planck Institutes and the German Cancer Research Center .


Molecular biological methods are used in modern biological and medical research, but have also found their way into forensics and many other areas of daily life. Molecular biology uses a variety of biochemical , microbiological , genetic and genetic engineering processes and combines their results in order to obtain a larger context. Here, too, the range of techniques is fluid and extends from in-vitro technology to in-vivo analysis, such as PCR , cloning , mutagenesis , recombinant expression , yeast two-hybrid systems , cell culture , etc.

See also


Web links

Wikibooks: Medical Biology  - Learning and Teaching Materials
Wiktionary: Molecular biology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander McLennan, Andy Bates: Molecular biology: for biologists, biochemists, pharmacists and physicians . John Wiley & Sons, 2013, ISBN 978-3-527-33476-6 , pp. 257 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed April 5, 2017]).