In DepthBiology

New proteins may expand, improve genome editing

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Science  02 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6256, pp. 16-17
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6256.16

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Three years ago, no one knew or cared about much about a protein called Cpf1 produced by a bacterial gene. Now, it shows potential for making a fast-developing genome editing technique called CRISPR easier and more accurate. Bioinformaticians identified this protein and its potential connection to CRISPR by scanning the public database of genome sequences. Their colleagues now show that two of 16 versions of this protein tested can delete a gene in a human cell. Cpf1 has other advantages as well—being smaller than one of the popular Cas9 proteins used and depending on a smaller piece of RNA to find its target DNA. But its utility for editing genomes of human and other cells needs further testing.