Benchling users expand the CRISPR toolbox to target RNA for the first time

Roger Pellegrini

Benchling users Omar Abudayyeh and Jonathan Gootenberg from the Broad Institute have discovered the first RNA-targeting CRISPR system—a breakthrough finding that was published online ahead of print in the journal, Science.

Until now, CRISPR researchers focused on using Cas9 to only target DNA sequences for gene modification, transcriptional activation and so on. In this study, Abudayyeh, Gootenberg, and colleagues reported the first CRISPR system—called C2c2—that targets RNA, rather than DNA.


In their paper, Abudayyeh, Gootenberg and their colleagues also provided the first proof-of-concept demonstration of C2c2 by re-engineering the system to degrade a specific mRNA in . The authors also noted that, C2c2 is a small, single protein (~4,300 nt in length) making it easier for scientists to manipulate compared to other type III CRISPR systems. Overall, this new tool holds potential to measure or perturb important RNA sequences inside cells, ultimately opening new avenues in exciting RNA applications.


To learn more about the discovery of C2c2 and how you can start using C2c2 in bacterial cells, check out this article written by Abudayyeh and Gootenberg to get started!

Congratulations to Omar, Jonathan, and their colleagues from the Broad Institute, MIT, Harvard, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, National Institutes of Health, and Rutgers University at New Brunswick!

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