<< Back to glossary index


A type of enzyme involved in synthesising chains of DNA and RNA.

Use in clinical context

The genome needs to be copied during a number of processes, including cell division, protein synthesis and DNA repair. Polymerases are crucial for copying: they add nucleotides in sequence to the new strand of DNA or RNA, using the existing strand as a template to ensure that nucleotides are added in the correct order.

Polymerases are coded for by genes, and variants in these genes can lead to changes to the polymerases and result in rare genetic conditions.

Polymerases are used in many laboratory procedures that require copies of DNA or RNA to be made, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or sequencing.

Last updated on 30th December, 2021