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Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
Volume 178, 2021, Pages 63-83

CRISPR-Cas9: A fascinating journey from bacterial immune system to human gene editing

Munshi Azad Hossain

Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, United States.


Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR)-Cas system has been discovered as an adaptive-immune system in prokaryotes. Microbes like bacteria and archaea use CRISPR-Cas9 as a part of their defense mechanism to ward off the virus and cleave their DNA. Over the past decades, researchers have identified that this simple CRISPR-Cas9 system of bacteria can be utilized to cut any DNA. It is also possible to make precise editing in the genome of almost any organism. This discovery has revolutionized the CRISPR-Cas9 tools and made it one of the most precise gene editing technology known till date. The simple, versatile and programmable nature of CRISPR-Cas9 system 5wthat contains a single guide RNA and Cas9 enzyme, made it an attractive choice for genome editing application. Scientists in the field of molecular biology, genetics and medicine extensively use this transformative technology to study gene regulation and also for treatment of several incurable genetic diseases. Today, CRISPR-Cas9 is the most powerful breakthrough of the century for its immense potential to modulate gene expression in living cells and its application to medicine and human health. Recently, ethical challenges associated with the application of this technology to human health become a hot debate in the scientific community. In this chapter the brief history of development of CRISPR-Cas9 tools and its immense application potential have been discussed.

Keywords: CRISPR, Cas9, Bacterial defense system, Genome editing, CRISPR baby.

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