Harvard researchers have succeeded in creating a new gene-editing tool capable of performing millions of genetic experiments at the same time. They call it the Retron Library Recombination (RLR) technique, which uses fragments of bacterial DNA called “retron” to produce DNA fragments.
When it comes to “genetic modification”, we often think of the CRISPR-Cas9 technique which has been raging in the scientific world for many years. It is more precise than previous techniques and has the potential to shine in the healing arena.
However, CRISPR-Cas9 still has many limitations. Scientists cannot use multiple samples at the same time in an experiment with CRISPR-Cas9. Additionally, this gene-editing process is toxic to cells, because the Cas9 enzyme – the “scissors” that cuts DNA strands – also cuts off unrelated parts of the test.
La technique CRISPR-Cas9 coupe la séquence d’ADN pour insérer les composants mutés. Pendant ce temps, les rétons peuvent introduire l’ADN mutant dans les cellules répliques, ce qui signifie que la séquence mutante peut apparaître dans la cellule suivante, pas besoin d’envahir l’ADN par découpe.
In addition, retons also act as “tags” that scientists stick to the cover of the research topic, allowing them to track individual paired DNA in a large complex of many cells. This means that researchers can use the retron as a genetic repair tool without damaging other DNAs, and the new technique can perform multiple tests in a complex containing multiple elements.
Scientists at the Wyss Institute tested the RLR method on E. coli bacteria and found that up to 90% of organisms receive a retron with only a slight change in genetic structure. The research team also demonstrated the usefulness of the RLR method for experimenting with a large number of organisms, thereby speeding up the research process.
“RLR allows us to do the impossible per se with CRISPR: we randomize the sequences of the bacterial genome, turning those gene fragments into single-stranded DNA,” said study author Max Schubert. And then use them to decode millions of gene sequences at once. RLR is simpler, more flexible, eliminates harmful factors commonly found in CRISPR, improves mutation research.