Scientists establish new plant genome engineering system

CHENGDU, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A joint team from China and the United States has established CRISPR-Cas12b, a new genome engineering system for plants.

Researchers from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and the University of Maryland in the United States said CRISPR-Cas12b is efficient in gene activation and repression.

Often known as molecular scissors, the advance in CRISPR, using certain protein like Cas9 as the scissors, has revolutionized biology in recent years.

CRISPR-Cas9 is known for recognizing short DNA sequences and making cuts in the genome while CRISPR-Cas12a recognizes different DNA sequences, expanding the number of target sites available for editing.

The researchers reported in the journal Nature Plants that compared with the other two CRISPR systems, CRISPR-Cas12b enables researchers to target multiple genes in one step while retaining features of CRISPR-Cas12a.

Through tests on rice, the researchers screened the best DNA-cutting protein for genome editing, repression and activation.

They said their study established CRISPR-Cas12b as the third promising system, after CRISPR-Cas9 and CRISPR-Cas12a, for plant genome editing. The system holds potential for generating crops effective in curbing diseases, pests and the effects of climate change.

[ Editor: ZY ]