Medical Definition of Polony

  • 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.

Polony: A tiny colony of DNA, about one micron in diameter. The word "polony" is a contraction of "polymerase colony." To create polonies, a solution containing dispersed DNA fragments is poured onto a microscope slide. An enzyme called DNA polymerase is added. It causes each fragment to copy itself repeatedly, creating millions of polonies, each dot containing only copies of the original fragment of DNA. The polonies are then exposed to a series of chemically-labeled DNA base probes that are fluorescent and light up when run through a scanning machine, identifying each nucleotide base in the DNA fragment. In addition to its application to DNA sequencing, polony technology can be used to study the transcriptome (RNA content) of cells and to determine differences in genome sequence between different individuals.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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