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Jumping Genes in Gene Editing

  • 14 Jun 2019
  • 3 min read

The scientists have recently discovered a technique using “jumping genes” for genetic editing. It could offer a seamless, safer alternative to CRISPR-Cas9 process.

  • The technique could allow edited genes to be more precisely inserted into genomes, possibly addressing concerns with current CRISPR systems that can lead to off-target editing and random deletions or even cancer.
  • Gene editing: it is the process of altering a part of the DNA code. It can correct or delete parts of that code, or insert new sections, for preventing diseases.
    • CRISPR tools currently use enzymes like Cas9 and Cas13 to cut and delete a portion of the genetic code, counting on the cell to use its repair function to glue the cut strands back together.
    • The process is not always effective, sometimes the repairs are incomplete or incorrect, and the damage response prompted by the cutting can have negative side effects.

Transposons or Jumping Genes

  • Jumping genes are also known as transposons, it randomly jumps from one site to the other, inserting genetic information as they go, using enzymes called transposases.
  • It can effectively slide into the DNA without cuts.
  • The jumping gene possesses all the necessary chemical properties to directly insert, or integrate without a DNA double-strand break.
  • Jumping gene could effectively be programmed with a guide, and it can insert itself with incredible precision into user-defined sites in the genome.
  • Researchers sequenced the edited genome and found that the insertion was precisely done, with no extra copies created elsewhere, a problem that can occur with gene editing that uses CRISPR.
  • The researchers found the jumping gene was capable of depositing “genetic cargoes into the genome,” delivering sequences up to 10,000 bases long.
  • This approach could allow for therapeutic genes to be inserted into the genome in a potentially safer way than is currently possible. It could be a game-changer for certain types of cells, like neurons, which resist gene editing using the “cutting” process.
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