Gene-editing enzymes in action

Scientists have captured high-resolution, three-dimensional images of an enzyme in the process of squarely cutting DNA strands.
The images — captured using a technique called cryogenic electron microscopy, or cryo-EM — reveal new information about how a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9 works, which may help researchers develop versions of it that operate more methodical and precisely to alter targeted genes.
“It is exciting to be able to see at such a high level of detail how Cas9 actually works to cut and edit DNA strands,” said UBC researcher Sriram Subramaniam, who led the cryo-EM studies. “These images provide us with invaluable information to improve the efficiency of the gene-editing process so that we can hopefully correct disease-causing DNA mutations more quickly and precisely in the future.” The Subramaniam laboratory was the first to achieve atomic resolution imaging of proteins and protein-bound drug molecules using cryo-EM. In the last few years, they have pioneered the use of cryo-EM to visualize a variety of proteins including metabolic enzymes, brain receptors, and DNA-protein complexes.
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