CENTER FOR GENOME EDITING AND RECORDING: PROJECT SUMMARY The ability to understand normal and pathologic functions of the human genome and to translate that knowledge into effective therapies depends critically on determining how encoded genetic information confers phenotype. Recent advances in DNA sequencing and bioinformatics have provided vast quantities of genomic data that, in principle, hold the keys to advances in preventive medicine and therapeutic intervention. However, realizing the promise of personalized medicine will require accurate interrogation and manipulation of DNA sequences in situ at a scale and level of accuracy not currently available. The Center for Genome Editing and Recording (CGER) will address these challenges by creating technologies to detect, alter and record the sequence and output of the genome in individual cells and tissues. Building on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology harnessed from bacteria, CGER will couple the RNA-guided DNA cleavage activity of the Cas9 enzyme to strategies for enhancing DNA sequence replacement using homology-directed double- strand break repair. In parallel, CGER will conjugate Cas9 to DNA ?base editing? domains to enable accurate introduction or correction of point mutations without double-stranded DNA cleavage. Using cell-based assays, CGER researchers will interrogate specific disease-associated loci in human cells to provide new biological insights and uncover new therapeutic targets. Together, these approaches will enable the creation of any desired sequence alteration at any locus with high specificity and efficiency, with profound implications for both genome science and practical therapeutic intervention. To complement this suite of genome-manipulation technologies, CGER will also develop a high-throughput pipeline for testing the functional gene expression impacts of sequence variants responsible for human disease. This pipeline will identify and illuminate the relationships between human genome sequence variations, target gene expression and interactions with other genes. Finally, CGER will create new methods for permanently recording cell state changes in DNA so that they can be read out in a single-cell RNA-seq format. This development of molecular cell recorders will focus primarily on an evolving lineage tracer that, by enabling the generation of fate maps at unprecedented resolutions, holds the promise to revolutionize studies of normal development and disease progression. To achieve its goals, the Center brings together investigators with strengths in functional genomics, biochemistry, chemical biology and medicine, all of whom have been instrumental in developing genome engineering tools across multiple systems. The work proposed builds on capabilities at the University of California, the Innovative Genomics Initiative, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital to create transformative capabilities and to access state-of-the-art research facilities and resources for training, education and community outreach. CGER's Education and Outreach plan emphasizes broadening the educational pipeline and attracting new investigators and those from adjacent fields to conduct genomics research.
The Center for Genomic Editing and Recording will create technologies to enable robust, comprehensive exploration of genes and genetic pathways responsible for human disease. In addition, the Center will establish methods for recording cell fates that will empower research on a range of normal and disease processes including human immune cell function, developmental neurobiology, and tumorigenesis, while educating the next generation of genomic researchers in the development and use of these state-of-the-art tools.
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