What is the gt in lambda gt10 or gt11?

Hank Seifert h-seifert at nwu.edu
Wed Mar 9 12:03:05 EST 1994

In article <riggs-080394105259 at> riggs at neb.com (Paul Riggs) writes:
>In article <2l2fk4$s5q at news.acns.nwu.edu>, h-seifert at nwu.edu (Hank Seifert)
>> >I think it means "generalized transducing," by analogy to phage
>> >transduction by P1, P22, etc.
>> >
>> >______
>> >Paul Riggs
>> I don't think so since these are specialized transducing phages
>> not generalized!
>> Hank Seifert
>> Northwestern University
>Generalized means "can transduce any piece of DNA," such as pieces of the
>chromosome or, in this case, any restriction fragment. Specialized means
>the phage transduces the same marker all the time, such as lambda-gal and
>lamda-bio specialized transducing phage.
>Paul Riggs
>New England Biolabs
>riggs at neb.com

Right you are.  I was just talking off the top of my head and 
as usual was wrong.  However in the spirit of discussion, 
should terms from genetics be used to describe new techniques 
that arise from molecular biology?  The process of transducing 
a new piece of DNA is not unique to the lambda-gt-series of 
bacteriophage but also applies to M13 phage and all other phage 
derived cloning vectors.  None of these vectors have a 'gt' 
designation. The process of cloning into a phage 
vector is very distinct from generalized transduction and could 
result in the new generations of researchers, 
many of whom never heard of generalized transduction, thinking that 
the term is specific for cloning.  The 'gt' label was good 
advertising for Young and Davis, but is it good terminology?
     I'm also concerned about the use 
of other genetic terms in this context.  Genetic 
transformation has a defined meaning in bacterial genetics 
(it was the first proof that DNA is the genetic material) but 
now means the introduction of plasmids into E. coli by  
chemical or physical means.  To make matters worse, the same 
process in eukaryotic cells is called transfection! This term was 
originally reserved for the introduction of viral DNA into a 
cell.  While it is too late to changes these terms, their use 
leads to inaccurate communication and can produce sloppy 
thinking.  These new processes should have new names to 
distinguish them from their related genetic systems?  Are there 
good alternate names for artificial plasmid transformation, 
eukaryotic cell transfection, and cloning into phage vectors?
Hank Seifert
Northwestern University

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