Some scientists say, “you can do anything with CRISPR” and others are absolutely astonished and amazed.
CRISPR can rapidly change any gene in any animal or plant with ease. It can fix genetic diseases, fight viruses, sterilize mosquitos and prepare organs for transplant. The possibilities are endless – and the prospect of designer babies isn’t far off.
Dead Cas9 can fix a single base pair typo in DNA’s genetic instructions. It can convert a C-G into a T-A pair. Also, we can attach fluorescent tags to dead Cas9 so researchers can locate and observe DNA or RNA in a living cell. Dead Cas9 can also block RNA Polymerase from turning on a gene, in CRISPRi. In CRISPRa, a protein that turns on genes is fused to dead Cas9.
CRISPR can be used for anything involving cutting DNA. It guides molecular scissors (Cas9 enzyme) to a target section of DNA & works to disable or repair a gene, or insert something new.
Many scientists have been thinking of improvements for this miracle gene editor. RNA Biologist Gene Yeo compares the original Cas9 to a Swiss army knife with only one application – a knife. He says that by bolting other proteins and chemicals to the blade, they transformed the knife into a multifunctional tools.
CRISPR/Cas9 is special because of its precision. It is much easier to manipulate and use compared to other enzymes that cut DNA. By using “guide RNA” it can home in on any place selected by the researcher by chemically pairing with DNA bases.
While Cas9 does have some problems, scientists definitely see the potential for greatness with a few tweaks. They wanted to ensure permanent single base pair changes, and they increased that from 15 to 75 percent. Liu used a hitchhiking enzyme called cytidine deaminase.
Scientists researched chemical tags on DNA called epigenetic marks. When scientists placed the epigenetic marks on some genes, activity shot up. This provided evidence that the mark boosts gene activity.
Case can also revolutionize RNA biology. The homing ability of CRISPR/Cas9 is what makes this seem possible. It was found that Cas9 could latch on to mRNA.
CRISPR/Cas9 was first found in bacteria as a basic immune system for fighting viruses. It zeroes in on and shreds the viral DNA. Half of bacteria have CRISPR immune systems, using enzymes beyond Cas9.
Overall scientists predict that in the next few years, results will be amazing. The many ways of using CRISPR will continue to multiply and we will see where science takes us.
Other Sources: https://www.neb.com/tools-and-resources/feature-articles/crispr-cas9-and-targeted-genome-editing-a-new-era-in-molecular-biology