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Crop Biotech Update

Blue Light Controls Gene Expression

October 3, 2012

Duke University bioengineers developed a system using blue light to control gene expression for biotechnology and medical applications. This method, referred to as Light Induced Transcription using Engineered Zinc finger proteins (LITEZ), involves a light sensitive protein from Arabidopsis thaliana and a zinc finger protein, which can be readily engineered to attach to specific regions of a gene. The researchers introduced the fusions of the proteins into a group of human cells in a petri dish. When the dish is placed under blue LED light, the part of the protein that turns genes on is recruited to whatever gene the researchers have targeted with the zinc finger protein and this gene lights up.

According to Charles Gersbach, main author of the study, LITEZ has the potential to be used in medicine or industry, including gene therapy, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and biopharmaceutical production.

Read more about the study at http://today.duke.edu/2012/10/bluelight and http://pubs.acs.org/action/doSearch?action=search&searchText=gersbach&qsSearchArea=searchText&type=within&publication=40001010.