ISPE Glossary of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Terminology

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Shear

1. The sliding of one layer across another, with deformation and fracturing in the direction parallel to the movement. This term usually refers to the forces that cells are subjected to in a bioreactor or a mechanical device used for cell breakage.

2. To fragment DNA molecules into smaller pieces. DNA, as a very long and fairly stiff molecule, is very susceptible to hydrodynamic shear forces. Forcing a DNA solution through a hypodermic needle will fragment it into small pieces. The size of the fragments obtained is inversely proportional to the diameter of the needle's bore. The actual sites at which the shear force breaks a DNA molecule are approximately random. Therefore DNA fragments may be generated by random shear and then cloned (by either tailing their ends or using linkers) so as to create a complete gene library of an organism. This method is little used now, having been replaced by the use of partial digests with four-base-pair cutters, such as Sau3A, as a means of generating random DNA fragments.

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

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