University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, October 10th 2019
10:10 am:
Biophysics Seminar in 120 PAN
Speaker: Asset Khakimzhan, UMN, Noireaux Lab
Subject: CRISPR in TXTL: Statistical Mechanics of CRISPR Target Recognition

CRISPR is without a doubt the most hyped acronym of modern molecular biology and not without a reason. CRISPR is an easy-to-use tool for editing, activating, and silencing genes in a broad range of biological systems. Improving our understanding of the rules that CRISPR systems follow could help expanding its scope of applications. Recently, it was shown that we can rapidly interrogate CRISPR systems using TXTL, an all E. Coli cell-free transcription-translation system, and achieve similar results to in-vivo experiments. TXTL provides easier access to characterizing the molecular mechanisms related to CRISPR. In this seminar, I will discuss our findings in CRISPR target recognition and provide a statistical mechanical model of how CRISPR systems decide on making DNA cuts. I will explain why TXTL is better suited for measuring CRISPR targeting mechanisms and how knowing the details of CRISPR targeting might be useful for in-vivo experiments. Finally, I will show how understanding the targeting rules allows us to trick nucleating CRISPR-Cas9 systems into activating or inhibiting a gene without having to mutate the Cas9 protein.

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