CRISPR technologies beyond genome editing and gene regulation

The genomes of various organisms encode a series of messages and instructions within their DNA sequences. Genome editing involves changing those sequences, thereby changing the messages. This can be done by inserting a cut or break in the DNA and tricking a cell's natural DNA repair mechanisms into introducing the changes one wants. CRISPR-Cas9 provides a means to do so.

In 2012, two pivotal research papers were published in the journals Science and PNAS, which helped transform bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 into a simple, programmable genome-editing tool. 

The studies, conducted by separate groups, concluded that Cas9 could be directed to cut any region of DNA. This could be done by simply changing the nucleotide sequence of crRNA, which binds to a complementary DNA target. In the 2012 Science article, Martin Jinek and colleagues further simplified the system by fusing crRNA and tracrRNA to create a single "guide RNA." Thus, genome editing requires only two components: a guide RNA and the Cas9 protein. 

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