Crop Biotech Update

Improved Editing through CRISPR-targeted Transposable Element Insertion

March 22, 2023

Researchers from Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and partners developed a genome editing tool that controls the transposable elements' insertion site and cargo delivery. Their preliminary findings are published in Research Square.

The present tools used to insert DNA in specific sites in the plant genome are low-frequency and error-prone. Transposable elements, which are considered genome ‘parasites' have evolved to insert their DNA effectively into genomes. They choose the insertion site based on preferences of chromatic contexts, which vary among TE classes. Thus, took advantage of the TE's natural ability to insert the genome precisely and came up with a genome editing tool that controls TE insertion.

The researchers patterned their approach with CRISPR-associated transposases (CASTs) that target transposition in a programmable manner in bacteria. A synthetic CAST was developed by fusing the rice Pong TE transposase protein to the Cas9 or CPF1 programmable  nucleases. This led to sequence-specific targeted of enhancer elements, an open reading frame, and a gene expression cassette into the genome of Arabidopsis. The system was also successfully translated into soybeans.

Read more from Research Square.

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