Close

Search

Search Menu
Photonics Media Photonics Buyers' Guide Photonics Spectra BioPhotonics EuroPhotonics Vision Spectra Photonics Showcase Photonics ProdSpec Photonics Handbook
More News

CRISPR Technology to Target RNA Viruses Such as Coronavirus

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Comments
NEW YORK, March 17, 2020 — Researchers at the New York Genome Center and New York University have developed a new kind of CRISPR screen technology to target RNA. Many CRISPR-based genetic screens can only edit or target DNA, and cannot target RNA viruses like coronavirus or flu.

Using a recently characterized CRISPR enzyme called Cas13 that targets RNA instead of DNA, the researchers engineered a platform for massively parallel genetic screens targeting messenger RNAs of a green fluorescent protein transgene and other cell-surface proteins in human cells. By targeting thousands of different sites in human RNA transcripts, the researchers developed a machine learning-based predictive model to expedite identification of the most effective Cas13 guide RNAs. Using the model, they predicted optimized Cas13 guide RNAs for all protein-coding transcripts in the human genome. 

“We tiled guide RNAs across many different transcripts, including several human genes where we could easily measure transcript knock-down via antibody staining and flow cytometry,” researcher Hans-Hermann Wessels said.

Their findings led them to identify a critical “seed” region that is highly sensitive to mismatches between the CRISPR guide and the target. This discovery could aid scientists in designing guide RNAs to avoid off-target activity on unintended target RNAs. Since a typical human cell expresses approximately 100,000 RNAs, accurate targeting is vital for screening and therapeutic applications.

In addition to furthering scientists’ understanding of Cas13 off-targets, the “seed” region could be used for next-generation biosensors to more precisely discriminate between closely related RNA species.

Cas13 enzymes traveling along a RNA landscape. Researchers Hans-Hermann Wessels and Alejandro Méndez-Mancilla, and study senior author Neville Sanjana (l-r, bottom). Courtesy of Christian Stolte and New York Genome Center.
Cas13 enzymes traveling along an RNA landscape. Researcher Hans-Hermann Wessels, researcher Alejandro Méndez-Mancilla, and study senior author Neville Sanjana (bottom, left to right). Courtesy of Christian Stolte and New York Genome Center.

Using the model derived from their massively parallel screens, the researchers identified optimal guide RNAs that could be used for future detection and therapeutic applications for the COVID-19 public health emergency caused by a coronavirus that contains an RNA genome. Predictions for Cas13 guide RNAs for a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated in New York have been made available online at http://bit.ly/coronavirus-guides.

The research was published in Nature Biotechnology (www.doi.org/10.1038/s41587-020-0456-9). The web tool for predictive scoring of Cas13 guide RNAs can be found at http://cas13design.nygenome.org

Photonics.com
Mar 2020
GLOSSARY
flow cytometry
A method of measuring the characteristics of microscopic particles, usually cells, as they flow in a fluid stream through a beam of light. Particles may be stained with fluorescent dye and the fluorescence detected via laser illumination.
Research & TechnologyeducationAmericasNew York Genome CenterNew York Universityimaginglight sourcesfluorescent proteinCRISPRgenetic screeningmachine learningcomputational modelingMicroscopyflow cytometryBiophotonicsmedicalmedicinecoronavirusCOVID-19pandemic

Comments
back to top
Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube RSS
©2020 Photonics Media, 100 West St., Pittsfield, MA, 01201 USA, [email protected]

Photonics Media, Laurin Publishing
x We deliver – right to your inbox. Subscribe FREE to our newsletters.
We use cookies to improve user experience and analyze our website traffic as stated in our Privacy Policy. By using this website, you agree to the use of cookies unless you have disabled them.