The time speeded so quickly that it is July 2015—a half of the year has passed. As the summer approaching, BioTechniques magazine summarizes the top ten most popular news stories that should not to be missed. Let’s find out what exciting new developments 2015 has brought to us in the world of biology.
1.How Accurate is CRISPR?
Since 2012, CRISPR has been one of the hottest topics in molecular biology. High hopes has been placed on CRISPR-Cas9 in gene therapy, but firstly it has to overcome the off-target effects. Researchers also found many ways to reduce off-target effects, but it is still not clear about CRISPR-Cas9 in the entire human genome in the case of off-target , causing safety of this technology has been questioned.
The study published in the journal Nature Methods, provide people with a comprehensive assessment of the CRISPR-Cas9 sequencing accuracy. Studies have shown that, just a little improvement of CRISPR-Cas9 can greatly reduce its off-target effects.
2. Red Meat and Cancer
Red meat’s reputation has been very poor for its connections to heart disease, obesity and cancer. But people loving red meat has not been seriously affected, because no one knows whether there are the specific cause-effect relationships.
However, University of California scientists have newly discovered that red meat in a sugar molecule could directly lead to cancer. Most mammals other than humans have such a sugar molecule. Hearing the news, will you go to the summer barbecue?
3. DNA Methylation Predicts Death
Human life can be said to be an ongoing process of making a choice, such as deciding whether to go on a diet, exercise or smoking. These choices will have better or bad influence on our health and life, but people still poorly understand about the molecular mechanisms. Marioni, who found that the cumulative effects of lifestyle will be reflected in the epigenetic, and methylation patterns can help people predict death.
4. A New Class of Molecular Probes
Scientists are never lack of biomolecules interaction study tools, from fluorescence microscopy, gel-shift to co-immunoprecipitation experiments. However, quantitative analysis of these interactions and dynamics of complex needs more specialized methods such as surface plasmon resonance (SPR). It is fortunate that, Koussa, who recently developed a fast, simple and affordable new method, which is the “DNA nanoswitches”.
5. A New Method for Monitoring Protein Movement in the Cell
Open the biological book for Cell Charts, we will see organelles dispersed and floating in clear cytoplasm. In fact, the interior of the cell is crowded as the peak period of the New York subway. So how protein proceed in such a crowded environment? Scientists Guo et al. have recently developed a new technique to observe the process. Studies have shown that the speed of the unfolded protein will slow down and fall into a traffic jam.
6. Long Live the Y Chromosome!
Genghis Khan returns to the headlines this year. The scientists found that, Y chromosome from Genghis Khan and several other strongmen accounted for a large proportion in Asia. To handed a man’s Y chromosome down to posterity, a man should not only be highly fertile, but also has the right to have the potential to ensure that their offspring continue flourishing. According to reports, around the world 0.5% of Y chromosomes are from Genghis Khan.
7. Mutants vs. Morphants
To knock down gene expression by morpholino is a common method in zebrafish research for its gene function. But earlier this year, scientists have found that using TALEN, CRISPR-Cas9 interference and ZFN gene expression often get different phenotypes, comparing with the use of morpholino. Research indicates that using morpholino functional gene will produce some degree of off-target effects, and the results are not reliable.
8. Turn a Gene On or Off With the Flip of a Lightswitch
Three research teams combines the most recent popular two technologies—CRISPR-Cas9 and light genetics. They developed a CRISPR-Cas9 transcriptional activation system which can be controlled by light and can achieve more precise control of gene expression.
9. A New Era of Genetic Manipulation
In April, Gantz and Bier introduced the year’s most compelling technology: MCR (mutagenic chain reaction). In a diploid organism, if only one allele appears recessive loss of function mutation (heterozygous mutation), it often does not exhibit mutations trait. But if the two copies of the mutated alleles (homozygous mutant), that creature will appear phenotypic mutation. On basis of CRISPR / Cas9, MCR can automatically generate homozygous loss of function mutations, i.e. mutations in both alleles simultaneously.
10. Bringing Color to DNA Amplification
In chemistry class, we determined pH of the solution based on the pH test paper color. With the same philosophy (based on the pH value of the color change), NEB’s research team developed a simple pH-sensitive, color changing dye, giving researchers a visible color change. The technology shows broad application prospects in the field of research, field trials, and clinical diagnosis.
Source from BioTechniques: Top Ten BioTechniques News Stories of 2015.