Genome Engineering Using CRISPR-Cas9


February 18, 2014 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
NW 425
About the Speaker
Feng Zhang (MIT)

Functional elucidation of causal genetic variations and genetic elements requires precise genome manipulation technologies. We have recently developed a new class of eukaryotic genome engineering technology based on the bacterial CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) adaptive immune system. We reconstituted the CRISPR crRNA processing and interference system in mammalian cells and demonstrate that the Cas9 nuclease can be targeted to specific genomic loci by short crRNA guides to induce DNA double strand breaks. In a variety of cell types and species, Cas9 mediates editing of endogenous chromatin. Here we describe most recent advances for the Cas9 technology through interrogation and enhancement of targeting specificity, conversation of Cas9 into a modular DNA targeting domain, as well as application of the Cas9 system to probe gene function and genetic variations. Our results demonstrate the versatility of the RNA-guided CRISPR Cas9 nuclease system and open the possibility for efficient and multiplexed eukaryotic genome engineering for a variety of biomedical research and biotechnological applications.