Home pagePress monitoringNew CRISPR tool hijacks jumping genes for gentle DNA editing

New CRISPR tool hijacks jumping genes for gentle DNA editing

Date: 23.12.2019 

The CRISPR gene-editing system is a marvel of modern science, but cutting strands of DNA may not be the safest or most elegant solution. Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new version called INTEGRATE that works in a similar but gentler way, using “jumping genes” that insert large sequences of DNA without breaking the strands. And they’ve now imaged the mechanism at work for the first time.

Kredit: Sternberg and Fernández Labs/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.An emerging branch of CRISPR systems takes a more gentle approach, adding new DNA sequences without cutting existing ones. Insertion of Transposable Elements by Guide RNA-Assisted Targeting (INTEGRATE) is one such system.

INTEGRATE was developed earlier this year when Columbia researchers discovered an intriguing “jumping gene” in Vibrio cholerae bacteria. As the nickname suggests, this gene was found to jump around the genome, inserting itself in different places. It does this without cutting the DNA strands, instead using another enzyme to slip itself in.

By reprogramming the RNA that guides it, the researchers were able to control where the jumping gene inserted itself. The resulting gene-editing tool, INTEGRATE, can be used to insert DNA sequences up to 10,000 bases long.

Seeing this in detail confirmed a few of the team’s original hypotheses about how INTEGRATE worked. The researchers say that this new system should help make CRISPR more accurate and efficient.





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