GLOSSARY: Complementary DNA (cDNA)

Complementary DNA (cDNA) is DNA synthesized from a mature mRNA template in a reaction catalyzed by the enzyme reverse transcriptase and the enzyme DNA polymerase. cDNA is often used to clone eukaryotic genes in prokaryotes. When scientists want to express a specific protein in a cell that does not normally express that protein (i.e., heterologous expression), they will transfer the cDNA that codes for the protein to the recipient cell. cDNA is also produced by retroviruses (such as HIV-1, HIV-2, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, etc.) which is integrated into its host to create a provirus.