By this point, you can’t have escaped hearing about CRISPR. First discovered in the 1980’s, the repeated sequences and their function in bacterial defense systems remained a mystery until almost 10 years ago, when it was hailed as the biggest scientific discovery of the century. Since then, scientists have leveraged the adaptable, heritable mechanism to develop the most powerful gene-editing technology to date, known as CRISPR-Cas9. But the implementation of CRISPR may hinge on a crucial technology, the lentiviral vector!
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How do the ‘DNA Scissors’ Work?
There are three major parts to this system: the cutting enzyme, Cas9; guide RNA, to guide Cas9; and the DNA to be cut. The guide RNA is able to direct Cas9 by having a specific sequence, in this case the repeat that gives CRISPR its name, which complements a portion of the target DNA.
These strands combine, and Cas9 goes to work, cutting both strands of the DNA, implanting new DNA, and stitching it back together.