Thursday, 5 September 2019

These albino lizards are the world's first gene-edited reptiles

Date: August 27, 2019
Source: Cell Press

Meet the world's first gene-edited reptiles: albino lizards roughly the size of your index finger. Researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to make the lizards, providing a technique for gene editing outside of major animal models. In their study, publishing August 27 in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers also show that the lizards can successfully pass gene-edited alleles for albinism to their offspring.

"For quite some time we've been wrestling with how to modify reptile genomes and manipulate genes in reptiles, but we've been stuck in the mode of how gene editing is being done in the major model systems," says corresponding author Doug Menke, an associate professor at the University of Georgia. "We wanted to explore anole lizards to study the evolution of gene regulation, since they've experienced a series of speciation events on Caribbean islands, much like Darwin's finches of the Galapagos."

The way gene editing is performed in most model systems is to inject CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing reagents into freshly fertilized eggs or single-cell zygotes. But this technique cannot be used in reptiles, Menke says, because lizards have internal fertilization and the time of fertilization cannot be predicted. An isolated single-cell embryo from a female lizard also cannot be easily transferred, making it almost impossible to manipulate outside of the lizard

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