Neuroscience researchers have a new gene regulation tool at their disposal, capable of delving deep inside the brain and help them to discover the origins of a variety of neuropsychiatric issues.
The tool has been developed and approved by a team of researchers working for the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The primary function of the device is represented by the ability to convert genes into functional neurons. Researchers can use the tool to maximize the expression of a single gene or the simultaneous expression of several genes, while at the same time can control the number of gene expressions.
The capacity to increase gene expression, effectively boosting the amount of mRNA which in its turn generates proteins, allows researchers to track down and study specific genes. These queries carry significant value, permitting researchers to learn how the expressions of particular genes can influence the growth of the brain and the appearance of specific neuron times. In the case of the adult brain, the tool can be used to observe how modified gene programs affected by neural activity and behavioral experience can pave the way for adaptive behavior.
New Gene Regulation Tool Can Access Primary Brain Neurons
The team used the well-known CRISPR as a starting base, adding lentiviruses to facilitate the transfer into neurons. While CRISPR-based technology has been used in the past, the team had to overcome a roadblock related to transgene expression in post-mitotic neurons.
In order to facilitate the process, the team developed a high-power neuron-optimized dual lentiviral system which is also customizable. Until now CRISPR technology was primarily used in cell culture, but the new tool could open the way towards a new era in which genetic tools could be used to perform in vivo genetic manipulation.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system has become a staple tool in gene editing, allowing researchers to edit targeted genes. The researchers harnessed the potential of multiple single guide mRNAs to customize the upregulation of single or multiple genes. Basing on CRISPR, scientists came up with a new gene regulation tool that can access primary brain neurons.