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CRISPR Tool Could Help Shred Viruses

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Model of a minimal CRISPR-Cas13bt3 molecule generated with a cryo-electron microscope.

The researchers used a cryo-electron microscope to map the structure of the CRISPR system, placing the molecule on a thin layer of ice and shooting a beam of electrons through it to generate data that was processed into a detailed three-dimensional model.

Credit: Yang Gao laboratory/Rice University

Rice University scientists have characterized the three-dimensional (3D) structure of one of the smallest known CRISPR-Cas13 systems for shredding or altering RNA, and leveraged the results to enhance its precision.

Rice's Yang Gao said the CRISPR-Cas13bt3 molecule has about 700 amino acids while typical systems contain approximately 1,200 amino acids; this improves access and delivery to target-editing sites.

The researchers 3D-mapped the CRISPR system's structure with a cryo-electron microscope, and Gao said its deployment mechanism, unlike that of other Cas13 proteins, hooks its cleaving structure onto the RNA strand at the right target site via a binding element.

The researchers then modified the protein to improve its precision.

From Rice University News
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