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Definition of Plasmid

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Plasmid: A circle of DNA that is self-replicating (autonomously replicating) and distinct from the normal genome of bacteria. A plasmid contains genes that as a rule are not essential to the growth or survival of the cell. Some plasmids can integrate into the host genome, can be artificially constructed in the laboratory, and serve as cloning vectors (carriers). "A section of the worm gene is inserted into a plasmid, a structure for carrying genes into bacteria." (New York Times, Jan 16, 2003)

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Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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