Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Develop Biological Switch to Control Genome Editing

July 4, 2018

Scientists at the University of Bath and Cardiff University in UK developed an efficient biological switch that turns on protein expression at will. The switch enables control of genome editing tools which has the potential to regulate a system of favorable genetic modification through the entire populations. The results are published in Scientific Reports.

The new switching method is expected to work for any protein in any species and utilizes an inexpensive, non-toxic amino acid similar to lysine as switch. When the switch is turned on, it requires the presence of an amino acid known as BOC. Unlike other switches, the novel method does not use antibiotics, removing the risks of selecting for bacterial antibiotic resistance. The researchers successfully employed the novel switch in both cultured cells and in early-stage mouse embryos without any detectable target protein expression activity in the absence of BOC.

The method used by the researchers extends a principle known as genetic code expansion. To show this principle, the researchers used transgenic mice with a gene that makes their skin light up under UV light. When the genetic code expansion toolkit was present in embryos from the mice, their genomic DNA was edited to remove the fluorescence gene in the presence of BOC. Without BOC, there was no editing.

Read the research article for more details.