Research press release


Nature Communications

Synthetic biology: An inbuilt kill-switch to control GMOs



今回、Brian CaliandoとChristopher VoigtはCRISPRを用いたデバイスを設計したが、このデバイスは宿主細菌のゲノムに安定的に組み込まれ、ユーザーが指定するDNA配列(例えば、プラスミドが持つ外来の遺伝子)を選択的に分解する。このデバイスは誘導制御下に置かれ、特定の時刻や特定の条件下での活性化を容易に実現できる。このシステムは、目的のDNA配列を効率的に標的化して破壊するが、宿主の成長や代謝に対しては感知できるほどの負担がかからない。

A built-in CRISPR-based device, designed to target specific DNA sequences for destruction in genetically modified organisms, is described in a paper published online in Nature Communications. Controlling the destruction of specific DNA sequences could have applications ranging from preventing the release of genetically modified organisms to helping to protect the intellectual property of biotechnology companies from theft.

The concerns regarding the potential release of genetically modified micro-organisms has prompted the development of various methods to induce cell death, but these methods often overlook issues regarding the release of DNA into the environment. The stability of DNA, combined with advances in sequencing technologies, means that genetic information is potentially recoverable even after harsh treatments to sterilise equipment. Current systems designed to target DNA are focused on whole genome destruction which renders the host organism unviable.

Brian Caliando and Christopher Voigt have designed a CRISPR-based device, stably integrated into a host bacterium’s genome, which targets user-defined DNA sequences, such as foreign genes carried on plasmids. The device is placed under an inducible control, which facilitates activation at specific times or under specific conditions. The system efficiently targets and destroys the intended DNA sequence while imposing no appreciable burden on host growth or metabolism.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms7989

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