The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system, a simple and efficient tool for genome editing, has experienced rapid progress in its technology and applicability in the past two years. Here, we review the recent advances in CRISPR/Cas9 technology and the ways that have been adopted to expand our capacity for precise genome manipulation. First, we introduce the mechanism of CRISPR/Cas9, including its biochemical and structural implications. Second, we highlight the latest improvements in the CRISPR/Cas9 system, especially Cas9 protein modifications for customization. Third, we review its current applications, in which the versatile CRISPR/Cas9 system was employed to edit the genome, epigenome, or RNA of various organisms. Although CRISPR/Cas9 allows convenient genome editing accompanied by many benefits, we should not ignore the significant ethical and biosafety concerns that it raises. Finally, we discuss the prospective applications and challenges of several promising techniques adapted from CRISPR/Cas9.
Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; Epigenome editing; Genome editing; RNA editing.
Copyright © 2016 Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Genetics Society of China. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.