Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats(CRISPR, pronounced crisper) are segments of prokaryoticDNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. Each repetition is followed by short segments of “spacer DNA” from previous exposures to a bacteriophage virus or plasmid.
The CRISPR/Cas system is a prokaryotic immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements such as those present within plasmids and phages, and provides a form ofacquired immunity. CRISPR spacers recognize and cut these exogenous genetic elements in a manner analogous to RNA interference in eukaryotic organisms. CRISPRs are found in approximately 40% of sequenced bacterial genomes and 90% of sequenced archaea.[note 1]
By delivering the Cas9 nuclease and appropriate guide RNAs into a cell, the cell’s genome can be cut at a desired location, allowing existing genes to be removed and/or new ones added.CRISPRs have been used in concert with specific endonucleaseenzymes for genome editing and gene regulation in species throughout the tree of life.
The CRISPR interference technique has many potential applications, including altering the germline of humans, animals, and food crops. The use of CRISPR for genome editing was the AAAS‘s choice for breakthrough of the year in 2015. Bioethical concerns have been expressed about the prospect of using this nascent biotechnology for editing the human germline.
(From: Wikipedia, June 2016)