Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Broad-scale genome tinkering with help of an RNA guide: Biotechnology tool borrowed from pathogenic bacteria

Date:
July 25, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Researchers have devised a way to quickly and easily target and tinker with any gene in the human genome. The new tool, which builds on an RNA-guided enzyme they borrowed from bacteria, is being made freely available to researchers who may now apply it to the next round of genome discovery.

Duke researchers have devised a way to quickly and easily target and tinker with any gene in the human genome. The new tool, which builds on an RNA-guided enzyme they borrowed from bacteria, is being made freely available to researchers who may now apply it to the next round of genome discovery.

The new method also has obvious utility for gene therapy and for efforts to reprogram stem or adult cells into other cell types -- for example, to make new neurons from skin cells.

"We have the genome sequence and we know what all the parts are, but we are still in need of methods to manipulate it easily and precisely," says assistant professor Charles Gersbach, of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. "That's where this engineering tool comes in."

Gersbach's team had already been in the business of tinkering with the genome using specially engineered proteins, but the process was difficult and slow. It was hard to imagine how to scale it up for the investigation of hundreds or even thousands of genes in the way genome scientists really wanted to do. "That's where the conversation always broke down," he says.

Then, he and post-doctoral researcher Pablo Perez-Pinera found out about an RNA-guided protein called Cas9 found in a Streptococcus bacteria. The bacteria rely on Cas9 as part of an adaptive immune system to defend themselves against infection by viruses, cutting out a piece of the viral DNA and inserting it into their own genome for recognition of future infection. Other scientists then showed that those immune system components could function inside human cells.

Gersbach's team recognized the RNA-guided nature of this system as a potential game-changer for the gene engineering work they do.

In the study now reported in Nature Methods on July 25, Gersbach and his colleagues modified Cas9 to turn genes on rather than cut them. They showed that their tool could turn on very specific genes in human cells. They went on to demonstrate use of the tool to modify targets of interest for fighting inflammation and activating gene networks for making neurons, muscle cells or stem cells. They showed they could induce a gene known to alleviate symptoms of sickle cell disease, too.

In other words, it works, and it works on genes that matter from a clinical perspective. In principle, the RNA-guided tool could be used to modify or influence any gene anywhere in the genome.

Gersbach now hopes to apply the new tool along with collaborators in the IGSP to investigate the functions of thousands of sites across the genome. With tissue engineer Farshid Guilak, a professor of engineering and orthopaedic surgery, he will continue to work on its application in the fight against inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.

"This simple and versatile tool makes it easy for anyone to do this," Gersbach says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pablo Perez-Pinera et al. RNA-Guided Human Gene Activation by CRISPR/Cas9-Based Engineered Transcription Factors. Nature Methods, July 25, 2013 DOI: 10.1038/NMETH.2600

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Broad-scale genome tinkering with help of an RNA guide: Biotechnology tool borrowed from pathogenic bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130725152138.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, July 25). Broad-scale genome tinkering with help of an RNA guide: Biotechnology tool borrowed from pathogenic bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130725152138.htm
Duke University. "Broad-scale genome tinkering with help of an RNA guide: Biotechnology tool borrowed from pathogenic bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130725152138.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins