A team of researchers at the Rice University, Texas, has designed and developed a computational model, which can calculate the mechanism, by which the proteins, called CRISPR-Cas9, discover their editing targets. Anatoly Kolomeisky, a professor of chemical and bio-molecular engineering and Chemistry at the Rice University, together with a university alumnus, Alexey Shvets, modified a system they had developed earlier to demonstration how proteins find their biological targets in general. They are hopeful that the revised model will assist in unlocking the secrecies of CRISPR.
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or CRISPR, in its natural state, is the biological mechanism, using which bacteria safeguard themselves from viral infections. Bacteria include a replica of the foreign DNA and create a record of all those that enter. They refer to this record when any new invader is detected and then it is utilized for the destruction of that invader. Of late, scientists have begun to adopt this mechanism to utilize it in the genome editing, which has a sheer potential to cure genetic diseases and improve various organisms, including humans. However, the tripping block in the mechanism is the risk of CRISPR-Cas9 proteins cutting and replacing the wrong target sequences, which can lead to genetic mutations.
As described in the Biophysical Journal, the Rice model has found out that it is very possible that CRISPR-Cas9 traces good targets effectively when these off-target edits are permitted to happen, because the proteins do not waste time in dissociating from the off-targets to continue its search.