For a long time, scientists have been trying to manipulate genes. Recently, at the University of Pittsburgh Alexander Deiters found a way to control this process with higher accuracy using light. This breakthrough by Deiters and his team was recently published the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
In 2013, scientists began using a gene editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. This method uses a bacterial derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA, causing double strand breaks at specific locations of the genome. Allowing researchers to remove a gene, change its function, or introduce a desired mutation.
In fact, CRISPR has shown great promise, which enables researchers to treat cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, establish experimental animal models simulating human disease and cultivate wheat lines resistant to powdery mildew disease. More details can be found here
Through a series of experiments, Alexander Deiters, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh School and Kenneth P. Dietrich and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have found a lysine residue (lysine is an amino acid) in Cas9 which can be replaced by analogues activated by light. This method, developed by Deiters, generates a non-functional Cas9 protein called "caged". The "cage" will be removed only by exposure to activate enzyme and thereby activate gene editing.
Deiters said: "This method can aid in the better design of cells or animal genes with both space and time control. Previously, if you want to knock out a gene, control is limited to the time and place genes appear. The design of a light switch in Cas, provides a more accurate editing tool. You can say, 'in this cell, at this point, at this time I want to modify the genome regions'."
Deiters points out that, after the improvement and with the passage of time, controlling the place in which a gene will be manipulated may contribute to the elimination of "distance effect".About the author
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