CRISPR Screening Helps Parse Noncoding Genomic Regions

Scientist collaborating in the lab

That CRISPR/Cas9 is useful for interrogating protein-­coding genes is more than evident. Now, researchers are proving CRISPR can be equally useful for characterizing
the noncoding elements of genomes as well.

Two teams from the Broad Institute published papers today in Science demonstrating the power of unbiased CRISPR-­based screening to tease out the roles of noncoding genomic elements.  While some studies have used CRISPR to disrupt known functional elements, the new studies are systematic looks at large stretches of the genome and pick out any elements that affect gene activity. Using single guide RNA (sgRNA) tiling arrays, these screens can disrupt sequences hundreds of kilobases long.

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