Editing the Neuronal Genome: a CRISPR View of Chromatin Regulation in Neuronal Development, Function, and Plasticity.

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The dynamic orchestration of gene expression is crucial for the proper differentiation, function, and adaptation of cells. In the brain, transcriptional regulation underlies the incredible diversity of neuronal cell types and contributes to the ability of neurons to adapt their function to the environment. Recently, novel methods for genome and epigenome editing have begun to revolutionize our understanding of gene regulatory mechanisms. In particular, the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system has proven to be a particularly accessible and adaptable technique for genome engineering. Here, we review the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in neurobiology and discuss how these studies have advanced understanding of nervous system development and plasticity. We cover four especially salient applications of CRISPR/Cas9: testing the consequences of enhancer mutations, tagging genes and gene products for visualization in live cells, directly activating or repressing enhancers in vivo, and manipulating the epigenome. In each case, we summarize findings from recent studies and discuss evolving adaptations of the method.







Anne Elizabeth West

Professor of Neurobiology

The long term goal of our laboratory is to understand at a cellular/molecular level how neuronal activity regulates the formation and maturation of synapses during brain development, and ultimately to use genetic model systems to understand how defects in this developmental process lead to cognitive dysfunction.

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