Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago have discovered a new gene editing method that enables programming of sequential cuts – or edits ̵
CRISPR is a gene editing tool that allows researchers to alter the DNA sequences in cells and sometimes add a desired sequence or genes. CRISPR uses an enzyme called Cas9 that acts as a pair of scissors to make an incision exactly at a desired location in the DNA. Once an incision is made, the ways in which cells repair the DNA break may be affected to result in various changes or edits to the DNA sequence.
The discovery of the CRISPR system’s re-editing features was described in the early 2010s. In just a few years, researchers were thrilled by the easy guidance of CRISPR to target almost any DNA sequence in a cell or to target many different sites in a cell in a single experiment.
“A disadvantage of the currently available CRISPR-based editing systems is that all edits or cuts are made at once. There is no way to guide them so that they take place sequentially, one after the other,” said UIC’s Bradley Merrill, associate professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the College of Medicine and lead author of the paper.
Merrill and colleagues’ new process involves the use of special molecules called guide RNA, which ferries the Cas9 enzyme inside the cell and determines the exact DNA sequence in which Cas9 will cut. They call their specially designed guide RNA molecules “proGuides”, and the molecules enable the programmed sequential editing of DNA using Cas9.
Their findings are published in the journal Molecular cell.
While proGuide is still in the prototype phase, Merrill and colleagues plan to further develop their concept and hope that researchers can use the technique soon.
“The ability to pre-program the sequential activation of Cas9 in multiple sites introduces a new tool for biological research and genetic engineering,” Merrill said. “The time factor is a critical component in human development and also disease progression, but the current methods of genetic study of these processes do not work effectively with the time element. Our system allows for gene editing in a pre-programmed way so that researchers can better study time-sensitive processes such as cancer. develops from a few gene mutations and how the order in which these mutations occur can affect the disease. ”
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Ryan Clarke et al., Sequential Activation of Guide RNAs to Activate Successive CRISPR-Cas9 Activities, Molecular cell (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / j.molcel.2020.12.003
Provided by the University of Illinois at Chicago
Citation: Researchers invent new genre editing tool (2021, February 23) retrieved February 23, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-gene-editing-tool.html
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