In a study that twists nature’s arm to gain clues into the varied functions of the bacterial genome, North Carolina State University researchers utilize a precision scalpel to excise target genomic regions that are expendable. This strategy can also elucidate gene regions that are essential for bacterial survival. The approach offers a rapid and effective way to identify core and essential genomic regions, eliminate non-essential regions and leads to greater understanding of bacterial evolution in a chaotic pool of gene loss and gene acquisition.
In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the NC State researchers harness the power of customized genome editing utilizing the system known as CRISPR-Cas. CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” and Cas refers to a family of genes and corresponding proteins associated with the CRISPR system that specifically target and cut DNA in a sequence-dependent manner. The system gives researchers the ability to edit desired DNA sequences to add, delete, activate or suppress specific genes in just about any organism; it has major implications for application in medicine, biotechnology, food and agriculture.
Read more in the NC State News story.