Pros and cons of genetic scissors

phys.org | 4/30/2019 | Staff
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Crispr technology has greatly facilitated gene editing. Associate Professor Thorsten Müller from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Dr. Hassan Bukhari from Harvard Medical School discuss its pros and cons in a review article in the journal Trends in Cell Biology. They believe Crispr technology has future potential primarily if it can be rendered usable in the field of stem cell research.

In order to analyze the effects of genes or gene products, they used to be artificially over-activated. "Thus, they would occur up to 1,000 times more frequently than in nature," says Thorsten Müller. "The cell was flooded with gene products, the proteins, which can falsify function analysis." The Crispr method eliminates this difficulty. It can be used to implant blueprints of fluorescent proteins in cells and to position them behind a specific gene. "This has enabled us to monitor for the first time a protein's function live under natural conditions—rather than after 1,000-fold overproduction," explains the biochemist.

Crispr - Method - Researchers - Vectors - Process

The Crispr method, too, has been optimized. Initially, researchers had to create so-called vectors in a time-consuming process, in order to label genes in the genome. Vectors are DNA segments whose sequence has to be to some extent identical with the DNA of the target cell, to ensure that the implanted gene finds the right spot. Today, they take advantage of the cells' natural DNA repair function, which considerably simplifies the creation of vectors, and are consequently able to introduce fluorescent proteins quickly and easily.

In addition, fluorescent...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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