Science Speaks - Blog by ISAAA

What You Need to Know About TALENs

By Kristine Grace N. Tome and 2Blades Foundation
March 24, 2021

TALENs are simple yet powerful tools used to edit genomes. They are extremely precise in targeting any DNA sequence and can help in fine-tuning the DNA within cell parts such as mitochondria. 

The Tale of TALENs

In popular use, "TALENs" stands for transcription activator-like effector nucleases. By its name, TALENs are a power combo of two proteins: (1) TALE, which targets the protein to a specific DNA sequence; and (2) nuclease called Fok1, which works like a scissor that cuts DNA.

In nature, TALEs are proteins made and used by plant bacteria to control plant genes during infection. TALEs bind to plant DNA sequences and activate genes following a set of biochemical rules or "code". Researchers can use this code to customize TALEs and TALE protein fusions to bind to any desired DNA sequence. 

TALE-nuclease fusions cut the DNA. These molecular scissors provide incredibly precise means to fine-tune traits in a targeted, predictable fashion anywhere in the genome.

Download What are TALENs infographic

TALENs for better plant traits

The 2Blades Foundation holds exclusive global rights for uses of the TAL Code and TALENs in plants. 2Blades has worked extensively to create simple, broad access to this versatile platform to improve the efficiency and precision of plant breeding.

For commercial applications, it has licensed on a non-exclusive, tiered basis to a wide range of users, from large commercial seed companies to smaller agribiotech companies. 2Blades also gives no-cost TALEN rights to non-profit and multilateral entities such as the International Rice Research Institute.

Know more about 2Blades Foundation

Next-level editing with TALENs

CRISPRs have become the most popular genome editing techniques. However, TALENS are extremely precise and have additional capabilities compared to CRISPR. TALENs can target any DNA sequence, discriminating between methylated and unmethylated DNA targets, and modifying DNA within organelles such as mitochondria. Thus, TALENs can perform better than CRISPR in some cases. 

To know more about TALENs, join the ISAAA Webinar on Innovative Tools for Crop Breeding on March 25, 2021, via Zoom. Sign up now at

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