New gene editor harnesses jumping genes for precise DNA integration

phys.org | June 12, 2017

A new discovery by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons could fix one of the major shortcomings of current gene-editing tools, including CRISPR, and offer a powerful new approach for genetic engineering and gene therapy. Their new technology, called INTEGRATE, harnesses bacterial jumping genes to reliably insert any DNA sequence into the genome without cutting DNA. Current gene-editing tools rely on cutting DNA, but those cuts can lead to errors. "Current tools are like molecular scissors: they cut DNA, but the actual editing is performed by the cell's own DNA repair machinery," says Sam Sternberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia and senior author of the new study. "You're at the mercy of the cell to finish the job." The new INTEGRATE technology, published online today in the journal Nature, functions more like molecular glue than molecular scissors. "Rather than introduce DNA breaks and rely on the cell to repair the break, INTEGRATE directly inserts a user-defined DNA sequence at a precise location in the genome, a capability that molecular biologists have sought for decades," says Sternberg, who was recently recruited to Columbia from Jennifer Doudna's laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Spotlight

We are living in a unique time in which the world is changing faster than ever. This largely is due to an influx and infusion of digital technologies that are reinventing and reimagining businesses across nearly every sector, and dramatically shifting societal and economic interactions. While the life science industry has, to some extent, adopted various digital technologies, it has not had a significant digital transformation in how it does business.

Spotlight

We are living in a unique time in which the world is changing faster than ever. This largely is due to an influx and infusion of digital technologies that are reinventing and reimagining businesses across nearly every sector, and dramatically shifting societal and economic interactions. While the life science industry has, to some extent, adopted various digital technologies, it has not had a significant digital transformation in how it does business.

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