Centre for Engineering Biology

CRISPR insight could improve technique and biotechnology applications

Nature Communications Publication from the Molnar Lab

The discovery that the CRISPR gene editing process differs between human and algae cells could lead to improvements in the technique and boost production of useful products made from algae and plants, such as renewable fuels, medicines, and other high value chemicals.

The gene editing technique also has the potential to be used to engineer crops to increase yields, improve disease resistance or enable plants to thrive in harsh climates.

However, there is a lack of understanding of one of CRISPR’s crucial steps, known as single-strand templated DNA repair (SSTR), which has mainly been studied in human and yeast cells.

To tackle this, researchers in the lab of Dr Attila Molnar (School of Biological Sciences) elected the widely used species of algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model to better understand the SSTR DNA repair process.

The results revealed that during the DNA repair process the behaviour of molecules which repair broken DNA strands, known as short single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotide (ssODN), differ between human and algae cells.

The study, published in Nature Communications, was supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), PHYCONET and the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh.


Related Links

School of Biological Sciences News

Mechanistic and genetic basis of single-strand templated repair at Cas12a-induced DNA breaks in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Nature Communications

Attila Molnar