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CRISPR 101: Cas9 Nickase Design and Homology Directed Repair

Posted by Mary Gearing on Mar 15, 2018 8:59:40 AM

By mutating one of two Cas9 nuclease domains, researchers created the CRISPR nickase. Nickases create a single-strand rather than a double-strand break, and when used with two adjacent gRNAs, can lower the probability of off-target editing. In this post, we’ll summarize how IDT (Integrated DNA Technologies) first demonstrated how CRISPR nickases improve homology directed repair rates, and share their design rules for your next CRISPR nickase experiment

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Topics: CRISPR, CRISPR 101, Cas Proteins

CRISPR 101: Targeting RNA with Cas13a (C2c2)

Posted by Joel McDade on Sep 21, 2017 10:07:21 AM

This post was updated on Jul 27, 2020.

CRISPR, and specifically Cas9 from S. pyogenes (SpCas9), is truly an exceptional genome engineering tool. It is easy to use, functional in most species, and has many applications (see a review of CRISPR applications here). That said, SpCas9 is not the only game in town, and other Cas proteins like SaCas9 and Cpf1 can circumvent the limitations associated with SpCas9. Cas13a (previously referred to as C2c2), has several unique properties that further expand the CRISPR toolbox. We'll cover how Cas13a was identified, the structure and function of Cas13a with a focus on what makes this molecule unique, and the various applications of Cas13a.

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Topics: CRISPR, CRISPR 101, Cas Proteins

CRISPR 101: Engineering the Plant Genome Using CRISPR/Cas9

Posted by Joel McDade on Oct 11, 2016 10:30:00 AM

CRISPR has taken the genome engineering world by storm owing to its ease of use and utility in a wide variety of organisms.  While much of current CRISPR research focuses on its potential applications for human medicine (1), the potential of CRISPR for genome engineering in plants is also being realized. There are a variety of reasons to consider using genome editing to change the genetic code of plants, including the development of crops with longer shelf life and the development of disease-resistant crops to increase agricultural yield (2,3). While it is certainly possible to select for desirable traits using traditional plant breeding approaches, these techniques are cumbersome, often requiring several rounds of selection to isolate plants with the phenotype of interest. Genome engineering, on the other hand, allows for targeted modification of known or suspected genes that regulate a desired phenotype.  In fact, CRISPR has already been used to engineer the genome of many plant species, including commonly used model organisms like Arabidopsis and Medicago truncatula and several crop species including potato, corn, tomato, wheat, mushroom, and rice (4). Despite the almost universal functionality of the CRISPR system in most organisms, some plant-specific changes to CRISPR components are necessary to enable genome editing in plant cells.  

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Topics: CRISPR, Plant Biology, CRISPR 101

CRISPR-Cas9: Tips for Optimizing sgRNA Activity

Posted by Guest Blogger on Feb 19, 2016 10:18:31 AM

 This post was contributed by John Doench of the Broad Institute.

For more infomation on gRNA design, see our post: How to Design Your gRNA for CRISPR Genome Editing

Whether designing a small number of sgRNAs for a gene of interest, or an entire library of sgRNAs to cover a genome, the ease of programing the CRISPR system presents an embarrassment of riches of potential sgRNAs. How to decide between them? By taking into account both on-target efficacy and the potential for off-target activity, experiments utilizing CRISPR technology can provide a straightforward means of determining loss-of-function phenotypes for any gene of interest.

Predicting sgRNA efficacy

We have recently examined sequence features that enhance on-target activity of sgRNAs by creating all possible sgRNAs for a panel of genes and assessing, by flow cytometry, which sequences led to complete protein knockout (1).

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Topics: CRISPR, CRISPR 101, CRISPR gRNAs

Components of CRISPR/Cas9

Posted by Joel McDade on Feb 2, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Updated Mar 26, 2020.

At their most basic level, CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing systems use a non-specific endonuclease (Cas9 or closely related Cpf1) to cut the genome and a small RNA (gRNA) to guide this nuclease to a user-defined cut site. After reading this post, we hope you will be caught up on much of the major CRISPR lingo and will be able to describe the functions of the various CRISPR/Cas9 components. Please note that while this post is intended to provide a general overview of CRISPR components, new Cas9 variants are being discovered all the time and the requirements of these different systems can vary (for example, xCas9 is a variant with increased PAM flexibiliy and eSpCas9/SpCas9-HF1 have increased targeting specificity).

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Topics: CRISPR, CRISPR 101

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