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Sneak Peek of Genome Engineering at the University of Wisconsin

Through a collaboration between the Harrison (Biomolecular Chemistry), O’Connor-Giles (Genetics), and Wildonger (Biochemistry) labs, University of Wisconsin researchers have been at the forefront in developing CRISPR/Cas9 tools and techniques for engineering the genomes of the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Their labs are now applying these powerful techniques to the study of early embryonic and nervous system development.

By bridging the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the bioengineering community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kris Saha’s derived induced pluripotent cells to dissect signaling and screen therapeutics within diseased and developing cell lines, microtissues and organoids.

Researchers in Jamie Thomson’s lab at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery have developed a novel CRISPR/Cas genome engineering system from Neisseria meningitidis that expands our ability to edit the genomes of human pluripotent stem cells for biomedical research and regenerative medicine.

With new genome editing techniques like CRISPR, Wes Pike’s Lab (Biochemistry) is investigating distal gene regulation through enhancers several hundred kilobases away from gene start sites.  Enhancer deletion is greatly accelerated through direct editing with CRISPR where transgenic mice can be made in a few months.  They are also developing cell culture model systems to screen genomic changes through different stages of osteogenic differentiation as well as methods for rapidly inhibiting gene transcription at specific target loci.

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