In DepthSynthetic Biology

Modified CRISPR cuts and splices whole genomes

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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 849
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6456.849

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Summary

For decades, biologists have been able to add or disable genes in a cell or even—with the genome-editing technology CRISPR—make precise changes within genes. Those capabilities have led to recombinant DNA technology, genetically modified organisms, and gene therapies. But a long-sought goal remained out of reach: manipulating much larger chunks of chromosomes in Escherichia coli, the workhorse bacterium. Now, researchers report they've adapted CRISPR and combined it with other tools to cut and splice large genome fragments with ease. The new tools are expected to bolster industrial biotechnology by making it easier to vary the levels of proteins that microbes make. They also promise an easy way to rewrite bacterial genomes wholesale, which could lead to synthetic life forms capable of producing molecules far beyond the reach of natural organisms.

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