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Genome engineering via TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9 systems: challenges and perspectives.


Magdy M. Mahfouz, Piatek A​, Stewart CN Jr., Genome engineering via TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9 systems: challenges and perspectives. Plant Biotechnolgy Journal. 2014 Oct;12(8):1006-14. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12256.​​


Magdy M. Mahfouz, Piatek A, Stewart CN Jr.


CRISPR/Cas9 system; DNA-binding modules; TAL effectors; designer transcriptional regulators; synthetic site-specific nucleases (SNNs); targeted genome modifications




The ability to precisely modify genome sequence and regulate gene expression patterns in a site-specific manner holds much promise in plant biotechnology. Genome-engineering technologies that enable such highly specific and efficient modification are advancing with unprecedented pace. Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) provide customizable DNA-binding modules designed to bind to any sequence of interest. Thus, TALEs have been used as a DNA targeting module fused to functional domains for a variety of targeted genomic and epigenomic modifications. TALE nucleases (TALENs) have been used with much success across eukaryotic species to edit genomes. Recently, clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) that are used as guide RNAs for Cas9 nuclease-specific digestion has been introduced as a highly efficient DNA-targeting platform for genome editing and regulation. Here, we review the discovery, development and limitations of TALENs and CRIPSR/Cas9 systems as genome-engineering platforms in plants. We discuss the current questions, potential improvements and the development of the next-generation genome-editing platforms with an emphasis on producing designer plants to address the needs of agriculture and basic plant biology.