In Part I of our series we introduced CRISPR as a molecular debugging tool and demonstrated how to target specific genes. In the present article we’ll design CRISPR experiments that work anywhere in the genome by targeting regions called enhancers. (If you’re already familiar with CRISPR and ChIP-seq, you may wish to skip to the video example.)
CRISPR as molecular debugging
CRISPR technology is transforming how we manipulate genes to understand their function. To explain CRISPR’s emerging role in genetic engineering, let’s use a metaphor from the world of software engineering. Suppose that a genome is like a massive codebase. There’s a bug somewhere in the codebase, and you need to figure out which line is the culprit. Until CRISPR, altering a particular line of code has been laborious, expensive, and error-prone. CRISPR gives researchers the ability to “comment out” a particular line of code with pinpoint accuracy.