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Institute´s seminar - Philipp Messer: Can CRISPR gene drives spread in the wild?

  • Date: Apr 2, 2019
  • Time: 16:00 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Philipp Messer is coming from the Department of Computational Biology at Cornell University, USA
  • Please find more information on the speaker here: https://messerlab.org
  • Location: MPI Plön
  • Room: Lecture hall
  • Host: Chaitanya Gokhale and Guy Reeves

Abstract:

CRISPR gene drives can convert heterozygous germline cells with one copy of the drive allele into homozygotes, thereby enabling super-Mendelian inheritance. Such drives could therefore spread rapidly through an entire population even when released in only small numbers. A variety of intriguing and controversial applications for this new technology have been proposed, ranging from the dissemination of genetic payloads that inhibit pathogen transmission in disease vectors, to the deployment of alleles that directly suppress disease vectors, agricultural pests, or invasive species. While several studies have now successfully demonstrated CRISPR gene drive activity in the lab, resistance alleles typically form at high rates and can limit the spread of a drive. In my talk, I will discuss theoretical and experimental results that shed light on how such resistance alleles emerge, how genetic variability in the population affects this process, and how resistance is expected to ultimately interfere with the spread of a drive in a large population. I will further discuss how the use of spatially-explicit population models, rather than the panmictic models used in most current studies, is crucial for predicting the population dynamics of a gene drive in a natural population. Our findings demonstrate that resistance will likely impose a severe limitation to current CRISPR gene drive approaches, but also highlight several possible avenues for engineering drives with lower resistance potential.

 
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