Functional genomics attempts to understand the genome by perturbing the flow of information from DNA to RNA to protein, in order to learn how gene dysfunction leads to disease. CRISPR/Cas9 technology is the newest tool in the geneticist's toolbox, allowing researchers to edit DNA with unprecedented ease, speed and accuracy, and representing a novel means to perform genome-wide genetic screens to discover gene function. In this review, we first summarize the discovery and characterization of CRISPR/Cas9, and then compare it to other genome engineering technologies. We discuss its initial use in screening applications, with a focus on optimizing on-target activity and minimizing off-target effects. Finally, we comment on future challenges and opportunities afforded by this technology.
Keywords: CRISPR; Cas9; RNAi; functional genomics; gene editing; genetic screen; off-target effects; on-target activity; pooled screens; sgRNA.
© 2015 FEBS.