Humans are not the first to repurpose CRISPR
by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Apr 06, 2020
In recent years, the development of CRISPR technologies and gene-editing scissors in particular have taken the world by storm. Indeed, scientists have learned how to harness these clever natural systems in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, among other areas.
New research from the University of Copenhagen shows that we are not the first to find a way to exploit the benefits of the CRISPR technique. Apparently, primitive bacterial parasites have been doing so for millions of years.
The researchers studied the least described and most enigmatic of the six CRISPR-Cas systems found in nature - Type IV CRISPR-Cas. Here, they uncovered characteristics that differ entirely from those in other systems.
One of these biological entities are plasmids - small DNA molecules that often behave like parasites and, like viruses, require a host bacterium to survive.
"Here we found evidence that certain plasmids use type IV CRISPR-Cas systems to fight other plasmids competing over the same bacterial host. This is remarkable because, in doing so, plasmids have managed to turn the system around. Instead of protecting bacteria from their parasites, CRISPR is exploited to perform another task," says Pinilla-Redondo, adding:
"This is similar to how some birds compete for the best nesting site in a tree, or how hermit crabs fight for ownership of a shell."
"A humbling realization"
"We humans have only recently begun to exploit nature's CRISPR-Cas systems, but as it turns out, we are not the first. These 'primitive parasites' have been using them for millions of years, long before humans. It is quite a humbling realization"
What can we use it for?
Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by acquiring genes that make them resistant to antibiotic treatment. Very frequently, this occurs when plasmids transport antibiotic resistant genes from one bacterium to another.
"As this system appears to have evolved to specifically attack plasmids, it is plausible that we could repurpose it to fight plasmids carrying antibiotic resistant genes. This could be achieved because it is possible to program CRISPR to target what one wants" says Pinilla-Redondo.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.