Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows Developed for First Time Using CRISPR Technology

CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology has been used for the first time to successfully produce live cows with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis, according to new research published in the open-access journal Genome Biology. The article is titled “Single Cas9 Nickase Induced Generation of NRAMP1 Knockin Cattle with Reduced Off-Target Effects.” The researchers, from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, used a modified version of the CRISPR gene-editing technology to insert a new gene into the cow genome with no detected off target effects on the animals genetics (a common problem when creating transgenic animals using CRISPR). Dr. Yong Zhang, lead author of the research, said: "We used a novel version of the CRISPR system called CRISPR/Cas9n to successfully insert a tuberculosis resistance gene, called NRAMP1, into the cow genome. We were then able to successfully develop live cows carrying increased resistance to tuberculosis. Importantly, our method produced no off-target effects on the cow genetics meaning that the CRISPR technology we employed may be better suited to producing transgenic livestock with purposefully manipulated genetics." CRISPR technology has become widely used in the laboratory in recent years as it is an accurate and relatively easy way to modify the genetic code. However, sometimes unintentional changes to the genetic code occur as an off-target effect, so finding ways to reduce these is a priority for genomics research. Dr. Zhang explained: "When you want to insert a new gene into a mammalian genome, the difficulty can be finding the best place in the genome to insert the gene. You have to hunt through the genome, looking for a region that you think will have the least impact on other genes that are in close proximity.
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