For The First Time - Images Captured Of CRISPR-Cas9 Enzyme In Action
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Images Captured Of CRISPR-Cas9 Enzyme In Action

For the very first time, scientists have recorded high-resolution, three-dimensional pictures of CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme in the process of just cutting on DNA strands.

The images were recorded utilizing a technique called cryogenic electron microscopy, or cryo-EM. It shows new details regarding how gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 functions, which might help researchers develop versions of it which function more effectively and just to change genes that are targeted.

The research study is published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. This revolutionary finding holds the key for treatment & prevention of a wide range of human ailments caused by DNA mutations.

It is fascinating to be able to see at this high degree of detail how Cas9 really works to reduce and edit DNA strands, said UBC researcher Sriram Subramaniam, that led the cryo-EM studies. He added that these images give us invaluable insights to enhance the efficiency of this gene-editing process so that we could hopefully fix disease-causing DNA mutations faster and just in the future.

To better comprehend the sequence of events involved with the procedure, Subramaniam and colleagues employed cryo-EM technology to image the Cas9 enzyme at work. The images deliver unprecedented glimpses of their stepwise molecular motions that happen in the span of DNA cutting by Cas9, including a photo of the cut DNA still connected to the receptor immediately prior to release.

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Miljan Simonovic – Researcher at the University of Illinois and co-senior author of the study said that the main obstacle preventing the development of better versions of Cas9 gene-editing tools was the lack of clear images of how exactly it functions by nicking the DNA. But with this finding, they could even observe major domains of the enzyme move during the reaction which could pave way for the creation of advanced gene-editing tools.

“One of the principal hurdles preventing the development of better gene-editing tools using Cas9 is that we didn’t have any pictures of it actually cutting DNA,” said the study’s co-senior author,  researcher Miljan Simonovic. “But today we’ve got a much clearer image, and we even see the way the  and this might be an important goal for modification.”

The Subramaniam lab was the first to achieve atomic resolution imaging of protein-bound medication molecules and proteins utilizing cryo-EM. In the past couple of years, they have pioneered using cryo-EM to visualize an assortment of proteins including metabolic enzymes, mind receptors and DNA-protein complexes.

This study was financially backed by the US National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health grants, the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, and by a Canada Excellence Research Chair position awarded to Subramaniam.

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