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CRISPR New tool in the genetic toolbox – Audio

New tool in the genetic toolbox

Jill Wildonger, Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 890-4619

Kate O’Connor-Giles, Assistant Professor
Department of Genetics
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 265-4813, (608) 265-5428

3:05 – Total Time
0:17 – New tool, big name
0:21 – What CRISPR means
0:38 – Discovered in a yogurt factory
0:54 – Used to repair genes
1:16 – May repair genetic disorder
1;59 – Agriculture, biofuels, human health
2:13 – Like auto correct in a text message
2:46 – Pay attention to CRISPR
2:54 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: A new tool in the genetic toolbox, we’re visiting today with Kate O’Connor-Giles and Jill Wildonger Departments of Biochemistry and Genetics University of Wisconsin Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Jill can you tell us, does this tool have a name?

Jill Wildonger: This tool is named CRISPR

Sevie Kenyon: And what on Earth does CRISPR stand for?

Jill Wildonger: CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspace short palindromic repeats, and that’s a long way of saying that the bacterial DNA that are part of the bacterial immune system to defend itself against viruses.

Sevie Kenyon: And Jill how is this new tool CRISPR discovered?

Jill Wildonger: It was actually discovered in a yogurt factory, so yogurt, rely upon bacteria and the bacteria were being invaded by viruses. The scientists at the factory found that the bacteria were using the CRISPR system to defend themselves against these viruses.

Sevie Kenyon: Kate can you provide an example of how this might be used?

Kate O’Connor-Giles: So the CRISPR system works to cut DNA, that’s how the bacteria defend against viruses, they cut their DNA and destroy them. What we use it for is to cut the DNA and then repair it. So one can change a mistake to a correct gene.

Sevie Kenyon: And Jill, is it possible to provide an example we may recognize of how this is used?

Jill Wildonger: There are human developmental diseases and in my lab we’re using this technology to model those diseases and we’re using this to introduce the same mutations that we find in patients, into our model system. For example there is a human disease that affects brain development in children and we’re introducing the mutations that are found in human patients into our model system, the fruit fly, a very simple model system, to look at how the neurons develop within fruit flies. So we have little fruit flies that have the same mutations that are found in this devastating childhood disease.

Sevie Kenyon: Kate, look into your crystal ball, what is CRISPR going to do for us?

Kate O’Connor-Giles: The potential is huge. CRISPR has the potential to affect many areas from bioenergy, to agriculture, to personalized medicine.

Sevie Kenyon: Jill, can you paint a picture of how CRISPR works?

Jill Wildonger: Sure, think about when you’re typing out a text message and you make a mistake. You can go back and change that mistake. In the same way the cell may have a mistake in its genome and as researchers we’re using CRISPR to change that mistake, but the cells responsible for the repair. So just like when you’re sending a text message and autocorrect jumps in and tries to correct the word that you go back to, to a different word, so we don’t have full control over how the sequence is corrected.

Sevie Kenyon: And Jill, what does your crystal ball tell you?

Jill Wildonger: This is one of those advances in science that I would tell all my family and friends about to follow. So pay attention to CRISPR it’s going to change everything.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with Kate O’Connor-Giles and Jill Wildonger University of Wisconsin Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.