Using CRISPR to understand and manipulate gene regulation

Development. 2021 May 1;148(9):dev182667. doi: 10.1242/dev.182667. Epub 2021 Apr 29.


Understanding how genes are expressed in the correct cell types and at the correct level is a key goal of developmental biology research. Gene regulation has traditionally been approached largely through observational methods, whereas perturbational approaches have lacked precision. CRISPR-Cas9 has begun to transform the study of gene regulation, allowing for precise manipulation of genomic sequences, epigenetic functionalization and gene expression. CRISPR-Cas9 technology has already led to the discovery of new paradigms in gene regulation and, as new CRISPR-based tools and methods continue to be developed, promises to transform our knowledge of the gene regulatory code and our ability to manipulate cell fate. Here, we discuss the current and future application of the emerging CRISPR toolbox toward predicting gene regulatory network behavior, improving stem cell disease modeling, dissecting the epigenetic code, reprogramming cell fate and treating diseases of gene dysregulation.

Keywords: CRISPR screening; CRISPR-Cas9; Disease modeling; Epigenetics; Gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
  • DNA
  • Epigenomics
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Mutation


  • DNA