Scientists from the Karolinska Institutet and the University of Gothenburg have developed a type of software that will make it easier to study multiple DNA segments at once using CRISPR. CRISPR is a gene editing technique that is used to study how DNA and specific genes work. Although the technique has become increasingly sophisticated, there’s a lack of organizational tools that work with CRISPR. The team’s software method was just published in the journal Bioinformatics.
CRISPR utilizes parts of the bacterial immune system to edit genes. When a bacterium is attacked by a virus, they use enzymes to snip off pieces of the viral DNA. This allows them to “remember” the virus so they can fight it off in the future. CRISPR gene editing techniques use this mechanism to cut out parts of a cell’s DNA so that it can be replaced by a new segment. CRISPR allows scientists to learn what specific genes do as well as how certain diseases and cancers work. Thanks to CRISPR, researchers are rapidly developing new treatments for a number of medical problems.
A team of researchers conducted a large-scale study funded by the Swedish Research Council and a number of other research organizations. The team wanted to make it even easier to compare DNA segments using CRISPR. This would be an extremely useful technique because researchers could make a gene edit and then observe how the change affected other segments of DNA. There was currently no easy or practical way to accomplish this, prompting the research team to develop a new tool. The tool, called Green Listed, allows researchers to compare multiple segments of DNA at once and on the same screen. This allows for side-by-side comparisons during gene editing. The software is available online, comes with a tutorial, and is free to use.
The team’s new software program, Green Listed, will help researchers study gene activity in multiple segments of DNA on the same screen. The program is free for other researchers to use and may help scientists develop new medical treatments faster.
Panda et al. Green Listed – A CRISPR Screen Tool. Bioinformatics (2016).