Crop Biotech Update

New Genetic Engineering Technique to Help Design and Study Biological Systems

January 25, 2017

A team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL) has developed a new technique to regulate the amount of protein that a particular gene produces. The technique will allow biologists to tinker with genes, whether the goal is to turn cells into tiny factories for medicines, modify crops to grow with limited water, or study the effects of a gene on health.

Dr. Sergej Djuranovic, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology at WUSTL said that the new technique is "a universal toolkit for modifying gene expression," and allows scientists to precisely regulate how much protein is produced from a particular gene. The process is simple and innovative and works in everything from bacteria to plants to human cells.

The technique takes advantage of mRNA translation, a key step in producing proteins from DNA. The research team tested the technique in bacteria, protozoa, yeast, plants, fruit flies, and mouse and human cells. It worked in all these organisms because RNA translation is an evolutionarily ancient process that occurs the same way across all lifeforms.

For more details, read the news release at the WUSTL website.