Crispr gene editing tool breed albino lizards

A US team of scientists managed to publish the genome of reptiles for the first time with the Crispr gene editing tool, creating mini-lizards albino. The manipulation could improve our understanding of sight problems in humans, hope the researchers.


Recent technology, called CRISPR, derived from the immune system of bacteria, uses a Crispr Cas9 nuclease and a guide RNA complementary to a 20-nucleotide sequence of a gene to induce double-strand breaks in DNA. This makes it possible to specifically modify the targeted gene in cells of plants, animals and humans.

Crispr modifiying targeted gene

Variants of the crispr gene editing technique also make it possible to reduce or increase the expression of a selected gene. This technology can be used not only to understand the role of a gene, but also to develop therapies for hereditary and acquired diseases into the DNA.

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A difficult technique to perform on reptiles

There are few approaches and methods to manipulate reptile embryos, unlike other species. These genetic scissors are generally used on fertilized oocytes, but the technique is difficult to apply to animals that lay eggs.

Crispr and virus resistance

The Crispr tool : Crispr-Cas9 by its full name is widely used on mice, hens and some species of fish and frogs – it has even been used on humans during the controversial procedure used by a Chinese scientist to give birth to babies normally resistant to the HIV virus.

"If we see a baby albino lizard, we know that it worked"

It is difficult to know exactly when an egg is fertilized, because the female keeps the male’s sperm for a relatively long time before fertilization. The researchers found that the transparent membrane of the ovaries allowed them to see the oocytes that were soon to be fertilized. they proved that a lizard can successfully transmit genes published to promote albinism in its offspring.

A possible solution for Retina deseases

The deletion of the targeted tyrosinase gene causes albinism but without killing the animal. Finally, these manipulations are of interest to researchers because humans with albinism often have vision problems. By working on lizards, they hope to learn how the gene affects the development of the retina.

Tommy Ounas

Tommy Ounas

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