Experts from Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University developed a new gene editing approach by putting together two of the most vital proteins in molecular biology, CRISPR-Cas9 and a reverse transcriptase, into one system. The new system called prime editing is capable of editing mammalian cells in a precise, efficient, and highly versatile fashion. The study was published in Nature.

The main difference of prime editing from previous genome editing systems is that it uses RNA to direct the insertion of new DNA sequences in human cells. The new system involves combining Cas9 with reverse transcriptase. The molecular complex uses one strand of the target DNA site to "prime," or initiate, the direct writing of edited genetic information into the genome. The system also uses a new type of engineered guide RNA (pegRNA), which directs the prime editor to its target site where a modified Cas9 cuts one strand of the DNA.

(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.

A new gene-editing tool called prime editing allows for greater precision and control over DNA edits compared to the popular CRISPR-Cas9 system (pictured). Photo Credit: Juan Gaertner/SPL