Mapping the Processes of Genome Editing in Human Cells
Genome editing technologies allow DNA sequence changes to be made to the genomes of living cells. These powerful tools thus enable many straightforward ways to study both genes and genomes and have become key components of biomedical research. Genome editing also holds promise for therapeutic applications with potential to address unmet medical needs.
In the Adamson lab, we use and develop innovative genomics approaches to ‘map’ molecular networks. A major trajectory of our current work is focused on understanding the complex set of DNA repair processes that impact genome editing in human cells.
Currently, all editing technologies work through a similar procedure: First, a programmable enzyme cuts, damages, or alters DNA at a targeted site in the genome. Then, a cell’s own mechanisms of DNA repair permanently install a sequence change or ‘edit’ at that site.
Ideally, this approach would be absolutely precise, both in terms of where a change is made and exactly what sequence change occurs. However, while recent technical advances have made accurate DNA targeting commonplace, control over edit installation –specifying edit frequency and type– remains a key challenge. By systematically delineating the processes that enable genome editing tools, we hope to discover ways to improve these important technologies.