Is CRISPR the same as gene drive?

Categories: Gene Drive Description, Gene Drive Mechanisms, Gene Drive Safety

No. CRISPR (which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a family of DNA sequences originally observed in bacteria and derived from viral DNA upon initial infection.  It acts as a defense system to protect those bacterial cells during subsequent viral invasions. The CRISPR DNA sequence is transcribed within the bacterial cell to RNA, which works as a sequence specific guide for a CRISPR-associated protein (called a Cas nuclease) that cleaves viral nucleic acid in a region complementary to the CRISPR sequence, disabling the virus. There are a variety of CRISPR/Cas types with different sequence recognition and cleavage abilities.

This CRISPR-Cas system has been adapted for use as a genome altering tool by substituting specifically constructed guide nucleic acid sequences that direct the Cas protein to cut at a particular target sequence in the DNA of an organism. This system has been found to work very efficiently in many types of cells and can be used to add, remove, or alter/edit the sequence in a targeted gene in an organism’s genome. CRISP/Cas based tools are being developed as therapies for several genetic diseases. They are also being used as one method to develop synthetic gene drives.

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