A novel technology for robust downregulation of bacterial genes.
RNAi (RNA interference) is a powerful method for downregulation of gene expression in eukaryotic systems. RNAi-based technologies are extensively applied as scientific research tools, as well as actively explored as promising therapeutic agents. However, although an efficient way to dowregulate bacterial and microbial gene expression has been long sought after, RNAi is not applicable in these species. The present technology offers a rapid and simple means to silence gene products in prokaryotic systems.
- Treatment of bacterial infection, by targeting bacterial genes vital for antibiotic resistance or bacterial virulence.
- Enhanced biofuel production by targeting genes that interfere with ethanol and/or hydrogen biosynthesis.
- Generation of improved bacterial strains for the diary industry (e.g. phage-resistant strains).
- Discerning prokaryotic gene function by silencing the expression of the gene product.
- The present technology may offer means to treat antibiotics-resistant strains.
- Because CRISPR-based technology does not involve ?classical? genetic engineering, the resulting products do not require labeling as 'genetically modified'.
- CRISPR-based technology system allows for the development of a rapid, scalable and high-throughput platform to probe the function of genetic circuits in prokaryotes.
CRISPR (clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a recently discovered anti-viral system that functions as the prokaryotic-equivalent of the adaptive immune system. CRISPR provides bacteria with protection against foreign genetic elements such as viruses by incorporating short stretches of invading DNA sequences in genomic CRISPR loci. These integrated sequences are thought to function as a genetic memory that prevents the host from being infected by the viruses and other genetic elements containing this recognition sequence. A team of researchers at the Weizmann Institute, headed by Dr. Rotem Sorek, has developed a unique technology to gain robust and rapid silencing of prokaryotic gene expression by exploiting the CRISPR system capacity to efficiently downregulate gene products. This potent technology can potentially be utilized in a broad range of areas such as in the agriculture, food and pharmaceutical industries as well as in the scientific research arena.