New CRISPR-Cas system cuts viral RNA

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology have discovered a new CRISPR-Cas system that cuts RNA.

A coronavirus can infect a person, and a virus can infect a bacterium. Over several billion years of evolution, bacteria have evolved all kinds of immune systems to defend themselves. CRISPR-Cas is one such immune system: researchers have been actively studying it in recent years.

Scientists have been trying to understand how CRISPR-Cas systems work since 2006 and are constantly finding new versions of it: they can be used for important programs. For example, CRISPR-Cas9 has helped to precisely edit DNA in cells: this has caused a real revolution in research, for example, genetic disorders.

CRISPR-Cas systems can also be used as an alternative to the PCR test for coronavirus detection. The CRISPR-Cas system, which the authors discovered in the new work, affects DNA and RNA.

Sam van Belzhou, Ph.D., noted that this CRISPR-Cas system has a number of unique biological properties that scientists did not know about. For example, the new system consists of one large protein that has the functions of five small CRISPR-Cas proteins.

The function of this protein is to cut off the RNA from the penetrated virus, this is done in two specific places. As a result, the RNA of the virus is destroyed.

Also, this protein is similar to that normally involved in cell death. The authors suggested that this is how the bacterium initiates suicide when only the destruction of viral RNA is not enough for protection.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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