This post was updated on Nov 27, 2017.
When we talk about CRISPR applications, one negative always comes up: the low editing efficiency of homology-directed repair (HDR). Compared to non-homologous end joining, HDR occurs at a relatively low frequency, and in nondividing cells, this pathway is further downregulated. Rather than try to improve HDR, Addgene depositor David Liu’s lab created new Cas9 fusion proteins that act as base editors. These fusions contain dCas9 or Cas9 nickase and a cytidine deaminase, and they can convert cytosine to uracil without cutting DNA. Uracil is then subsequently converted to thymine through DNA replication or repair. Later work has improved base editor targeting flexibility and specificity. New adenine base editors also allow you to change adenine to inosine, which is then converted to guanine.