Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Mobile genetic elements in bacteria and archaea

Researchers uncover a group of mobile genetic elements in bacteria and archaea encoding a Cas enzyme. Transposons are stretches of DNA that can hop to different sites in the genome and are commonly found in many types of organisms. In a study published in BMC Biology, researchers described a new type of transposon-like element in bacteria and archaea that encodes a Cas enzyme—well appreciated for its role in the CRISPR/Cas adaptive immune system in prokaryotes—which it in turn requires for integrating into a new genomic home.

As an immune response, CRISPR/Cas works by targeting and chopping up foreign DNA, and labs around the globe have adapted it for genomic editing purposes using the enzyme Cas9.

Casposons are now the second family of transposons—aside from a group present in eukaryotic genomes—known to be self-synthesizing, meaning that they code for their own DNA polymerase involved in replication.

Posted by Tim Sandle