CRISPR / Cas9 is a form of genetic engineering that is promising, such as killing cancer cells, but also contains some severe warnings, such as that it can cause DNA damage. So far, scientists have used CRISPR / Cas9 in a variety of plants and animals to process genetic information, including attempts to practice so-called "active genetics".
This last approach is an attempt to manipulate the genome that controls these two copies of a gene is passed on to the next generation. However, the technique is complicated and full of obstacles previously used only in insects. No more!
A team of biologists has now reached the world's first CRISPR / Cas9-based approach to controlling genetic inheritance in mammals.
"Our motivation was to develop this approach as a tool for laboratory researchers to control inheritance of multiple genes in mice," said the project leader Assistant Professor at University of California at San Diego by Kimberly Cooper , "We believe that with the advancement, it is possible to create animal models for complex genetic human diseases, such as arthritis and cancer, which are currently not possible."
To achieve their high goals, the researchers developed an active genetic "CopyCat". DNA element into the gene responsible for coat color in mice, and succeeded in controlling the coat color of mice by turning white instead of black. Over a period of two years, they then expanded their work to successfully determine that the CopyCat element could be copied from one chromosome to another to repair a break in the CRISPR / Cas9-targeted DNA.
As a result, they found that 86 percent of the offspring of mice inherited the CopyCat element from the female parent. This was a huge improvement over the usual 50 percent achieved in a natural way.
According to Professor UC San Diego, Professor Ethan Bier, a study co-author, the findings "open the way for various applications in synthetic biology, including the modular design of complex genetic systems for the study of various biological processes."
Cooper and her team are trying to work on this first mammalian active genetic success by extending it to multiple genes instead of the now possible gene mutation.
"We have shown that we can convert a genotype from heterozygous to homozygous, and now we want to see if we can efficiently control the inheritance of three genes in one animal, and if this can be done for several genes simultaneously, it could The mouse is revolutionizing genetics, "said Cooper.
Exploration of Evolution
The work could lead to a significant reduction in the time and costs required to advance biomedical research into human disease. But for Cooper and her team it goes beyond that. Your research is also a way to explore evolution itself.
"We are also interested in understanding the mechanisms of evolution," Cooper said. "With certain features that have evolved over decades of years, the number of genetic changes is greater than we can currently put together in mice to understand why bat fingers, for example, have grown into a wing, so let's do many of these active genetic tools to understand the origins of the diversity of mammals. "
The study was published in the journal Nature.