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Library of CRISPR targeting sequences increases power of the gene-editing method

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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IMAGE: CRISPR-Cas9 is a reprogrammable DNA cutting machine that is being used to edit genomes in many organisms for research purposes. Its primary component, the Cas9 enzyme (orange), cuts genomic DNA... view more 

Credit: Advanced Analytical Technologies

Cold Spring Harbor, NY -- CRISPR, the gene-editing technology that has taken biology by storm, is now more powerful than ever. Scientists have assembled a library of RNA sequences that can be used by researchers to direct the CRISPR-cas9 complex to cut DNA with exquisite, unprecedented precision.

Among other advantages, the new tool greatly increases the likelihood that a CRISPR "cut" (or series of related cuts) will have the functional impact that researchers intend. Disabling or deleting a gene or set of genes is much more certain to succeed fully with the new resource, minimizing the likelihood of "off-target" effects that can diminish the relevance of otherwise carefully planned and executed experiments.

"We've combined a machine learning approach with other strategies to optimize knock-out efficiency," says Professor Greg Hannon of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, who led a team that included Drs. Simon Knott and Nicolas Erard. All three performed some of the research while at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) prior to Dr. Hannon's move to the UK two years ago. Hannon, who is a CSHL adjunct professor, notes that the CRISPR library also facilitates multiplexing of experiments, as well as combinatorial targeting.

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The team's paper introducing the new CRISPR resource appears in Molecular Cell July 20th, and can be obtained here: http://www.cell.com/molecular-cell/home

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory's education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers.

For more information, visit http://www.cshl.edu

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