Chinese scientists successfully create the world’s first mammal with completely reprogrammed genes

Chinese scientists have successfully recombined a mouse’s chromosomes to create the world’s first mammal with completely reprogrammed genes.

Using the gene editing tool CRISPR, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing broke the chromosomes into different segments and rearranged them in different combinations to create a new package of genes, resulting in the mouse called “Xiao Zhu” (Little Bamboo).

The paper, published in the scientific journal Science on Thursday, the research team revealed that the research team has achieved the first-ever alteration of genes in mammals on a scale as large as chromosomes.

Chromosomes, which hold DNA in a cell’s nuclei, disintegrate and recombine naturally through a complex and delicate process. In the past, humans have only been able to replicate the process in a laboratory using single-celled organisms such as yeast.

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“Mammal genomes are much more complex than yeast genomes, and complete chromosomal rearrangements in mammals have remained unsuccessful,” said Li Wei, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. quoted as saying.

Errors during such separation and fusion of chromosomes in natural conditions sometimes lead to cancer and other serious diseases.

When Li and his colleagues manipulated the chromosomes by stitching together two very long pieces of a chromosome, they also made some mistakes that resulted in the deaths of the mice produced or specimens with deformities or strange behavior.

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By using shorter chromosomes and reducing the total number of chromosomes from 20 pairs to 19, they were able to create a new karyotype in mice that looked healthy and normal, despite having completely different chromosomes than mice in nature.

“For the first time in the world, we have achieved complete chromosomal rearrangement in mammals, which represents another breakthrough in synthetic biology,” Li said. “This research is a breakthrough in bioengineering technology, helping to understand the impact of large-scale remodeling of mammalian chromosomes and to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind growth and development, reproductive evolution and even the creation of a species. .”

The reprogrammed mice were able to mate and produce offspring with normal mice, suggesting that artificial changes could be passed down through generations.

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However, the mice reproduced with a much lower rate than standard laboratory mice because of an abnormality in the way chromosomes were separated after alignment.

According to the scientists, their breakthrough could potentially lead to a cure for conditions such as infertility and diseases such as cancer, as it allows researchers to observe and control the chromosomes in mammalian cells.

In 2018, Associate Professor at Southern University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC) He Jiankui received near-universal criticism for creating the world’s first gene-edited babies using CRISPR. He was released from prison in April this year after being convicted in January 2020 for intentionally violating Chinese biomedical regulations.

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Featured image via Sylvia

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