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Crop Biotech Update

University of Ljubljana Discusses New Variants of CRISPR Genome Editing Enzymes

June 28, 2017

CRISPR-mediated genome editing with the Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 enzyme is revolutionizing life science research by providing new tools for genetic modification due to its specific targeting in the genome of hosts. While plant biotechnologists have used the Cas9-based system since 2013, there are still some limitations to its use in plants.

Solutions could come from new variants of genome editing enzymes that were recently discovered and comparable to the Cas9 in terms of precision. However, most of them are less well known in the plant science community.

These include systems with improved RNase activity such as C2c2 from Leptotrichia shahii and Cas9 from Francisella novicida. Other systems are relatively smaller, allowing for better delivery to host cells. These are the Cas9 enzymes from Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus thermophiles and Neiserria meningitides, as well as the Cpf1 enzyme from F. novicida, Acidaminococcus sp.and Lachnospiraceae bacterium. Other Cas9 variants from S. pyogenes are also considered due to their increased specificity.

The team of Jana Murovec from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia reviewed these new enzyme systems for their use for genome editing, transcriptional regulation and cellular imaging. The team also discussed the possibilities they offer in plant biotechnology.

For more on this review, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.