CRISPR Gene Editing Technology Enables Novel RNA Research

NYSCF Robertson Stem Cell Investigator and NYSCF Robertson Stem Cell Prize Awardee Dr. Feng Zhang and his team at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT published two papers describing novel tools developed using CRISPR gene editing technology to understand and categorize RNA.

The first paper, published in Nature, describes a CRISPR toolkit to screen, characterize, and discover the functions of long noncoding RNAs within mammalian genomes. These genetic sequences, of which there are thousands, can influence the behavior of nearby gene-coding sequences. This influence, though critical to many functions, is little understood. The researchers demonstrated the usefulness of this CRISPR toolkit, identifying eleven long noncoding RNA sequences that mediate resistance to BRAF inhibitors in human melanoma cells.

A second paper, published in Nature Methods, explains how to utilize a previous breakthrough enabling single-cell RNA sequencing at scale. Deemed DroNc-Seq, this new technique merges the ability to study gene expression profiles of individual cells with microfluidics, allowing massively parallel measurement of gene expression in complicated tissues. This work paves the way for efficient, accurate, and systematic charting of cell atlases, or comprehensive guides to all the discrete cell types in the human body.

Read the Nature paper

Read the Nature Methods paper

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