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The new health technology

Scientists around the world have been using CRISPR/Cas9 in a variety of plant and animal species to edit genetic information. One approach to editing the genome can control which of the two copies of a gene is passed to the next generation. While such "active genetics" approaches have been developed in recent years in insects, creating such tools in mammals is more challenging, and testing them takes much longer due to the longer time between generations.
Publishing their work January 23 in the journal Nature, a joint team of UC San Diego researchers developed a new active genetic technology in mice. The achievement of UC San Diego graduate student Hannah Grunwald, Assistant Researcher Valentino Gantz and colleagues led by Assistant Professor Kimberly Cooper, lays the groundwork for further advances based on this technology, including biomedical research on human disease.
"Our motivation was to develop this as a tool for laboratory researchers to control the inheritance of multiple genes in mice," said Cooper. "With further development we think it will be possible to make animal models of complex human genetic diseases, like arthritis and cancer, that are not currently possible."
To demonstrate feasibility in mice, the researchers engineered an active genetic "CopyCat" DNA element into the Tyrosinase gene that controls fur color. When the CopyCat element disrupts both copies of the gene in a mouse, fur that would have been black is instead white, an obvious readout of the success of their approach. The CopyCat element also was designed so that it cannot spread through a population on its own, in contrast with CRISPR/Cas9 "gene drive" systems in insects that were built on a similar underlying molecular mechanism.
Over the two-year project period, the researchers used a variety of strategies to determine that the CopyCat element could be copied from one chromosome to the other to repair a break in the DNA targeted by CRISPR/Cas9. As a result, the element that was initially present on only one of the two chromosomes was copied to the other chromosome. In one of the families, as many as 86 percent of offspring inherited the CopyCat element from the female parent instead of the usual 50 percent.
The new approach worked in female mice during the production of eggs, but not during the production of sperm in males. This is

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The new health technology

Scientists around the world have been using CRISPR/Cas9 in a variety of plant and animal species to edit genetic information. One approach ...

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