Genetic strategy reverses insecticide resistance

M. Aguilera,  Phys Org,  2022.

University of California San Diego biologists have now developed a method that reverses insecticide resistance using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. As described in Nature Communications, researchers Bhagyashree Kaduskar, Raja Kushwah and Professor Ethan Bier with the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) and their colleagues used the genetic editing tool to replace an insecticide-resistant gene in fruit flies with the normal insecticide-susceptible form, an achievement that could significantly reduce the amount of insecticides used. “This technology also could be used to increase the proportion of a naturally occurring genetic variant in mosquitoes that renders them refractory to transmission or malarial parasites,” said Bier, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences and senior author of the paper. The researchers used a modified type of gene-drive, a technology that uses CRISPR/Cas9 to cut genomes at targeted sites, to spread specific genes throughout a population. As one parent transmits genetic elements to their offspring, the Cas9 protein cuts the chromosome from the other parent at the corresponding site and the genetic information is copied into that location so that all offspring inherit the genetic trait. The new gene-drive includes an add-on that Bier and his colleagues previously engineered to bias the inheritance of simple genetic variants (also known as alleles) by also at the same time cutting an undesired genetic variant (e.g., insecticide resistant) and replacing it with the preferred variant (e.g., insecticide susceptible).

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