A new paper by Yiping Qi, Associate Professor of Plant Science at the University of Maryland, presents six new variants of CRISPR-Cas12a that have never been tested on plants before.
The aim of the genetic study, published in the journal Nature Communications, is to improve the efficiency of food production. In recent work by Iping Qi, six new variants of CRISPR-Cas12a are presented. They were not previously tested on plants, and at first, scientists used rice. The point is that this is the main culture of the world. The work will allow not only to expand the goals of gene editing but also to simultaneously edit many different regions of the genome. In addition, the technology will make it possible to suppress gene expression to remove unwanted traits from crops. The proprietary tools greatly expand the capabilities of CRISPR-Cas12a in plants, which can aid in more efficient food production. Experts hope in this way to solve the problem of hunger of the growing population of the Earth.
Cas12a (like other CRISPR systems) is usually bound to a specific short DNA sequence known as the PAM sequence. The PAM sequence is used by CRISPR systems to locate molecular cuts in DNA. However, the new Mb2Cas12a variant introduced by Iping Qi works with weakened PAM requirements. This expands the scope of the material for editing.
In addition to this discovery, the multiplexed editing system presented for Cas12a in plants provides specific strategies for the simultaneous efficient editing of multiple regions in the genome.