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Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

[2016-04-20] Scientists delineate molecular details of a new bacterial CRISPR-Cpf1 system and open possible avenue for alternative gene editing uses like targeting several genes in parallel. (Nature 20 April 2016)

Only a few years after its discovery, it is difficult to conceive of genetics without the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme scissors, which allow for a very simple, versatile and reliable modification of DNA of various organisms. Since its discovery, scientists throughout the world have been working on ways of further improving or adjusting the CRISPR-Cas9 system to their specific needs. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, the Umeå University in Sweden and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig have now discovered a feature of the CRISPR-associated protein Cpf1 that has previously not been observed in this family of enzymes: Cpf1 exhibits dual, RNA and DNA, cleavage activity. In contrast to CRISPR-Cas9, Cpf1 is able to process the pre-crRNA on its own, and then using the processed RNA to specifically target and cut DNA. Not requiring a host derived RNase and the tracrRNA makes this the most minimalistic CRISPR immune system known to date. The mechanism of combining two separate catalytic moieties in one allows for possible new avenues for sequence specific genome engineering, most importantly facilitation of targeting multiple sites at once, the so-called multiplexing.

Read more: Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

Nelson Gekara awarded Fernström Prize 2016

Nelson Gekara photo by Mattias Pettersson lr[2016-06-08] The Fernström Committee at the Faculty of Medicine has awarded the Erik K. Fernström prize for 2016 to Nelson Gekara, Group Leader at MIMS and the Department of Molecular Biology. Gekara’s research focuses on the regulation of the innate immune system and the connection to infection and DNA damage.

Since 2010, Nelson Gekara has been Group leader at MIMS in Umeå. He has worked with several model organisms to study how microbes interact with their host and how innate immune responses are generated and regulated.

Nelson Gekara’s team recently demonstrated the importance of DNA damage in the innate immune system. Further they have identified new signalling molecules that control the innate immune system and are involved in the protection against responses from inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatism.

Read more: Nelson Gekara awarded Fernström Prize 2016

Postdoctoral Research Opportunities in Infection Biology and Molecular Infection Medicine available at MIMS and UCMR !

Up to nine positions are open for postdoctoral candidates interested to do research in the highly interactive and multidisciplinary research environment UCMR – Umeå Centre for Microbial Research at Umeå University, Sweden.
We aim to recruit new postdoctoral scientists with competence and ideas that will strengthen the research environment and contribute to its renewal.

The programme is open to all nationalities and features of the positions include:
• Development of a project proposal forms the basis for recruitment
• Funding for research within a multidisciplinary environment
• Two years of secure funding
• Access to UCMR-MIMS-affiliated core facilities and technical platforms.
The positions are full-time for 24 months.

Read the complete announcement (deadline for registration: 15 August 2016)

Targeting metals to fight pathogenic bacteria

Akbar Espaillat Felipe CavaFelipe Cava and Akbar Espaillat at the MIMS participated in the discovery of a unique system of acquisition of essential metals in the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This research was led by scientists at the CEA in France, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pau, the INRA and the CNRS. It represents a new potential target for the design of antibiotics. These results are being published in the journal Science on Friday 27th May.

Metals are necessary for life and pathogenic bacteria have developed elaborate systems to compensate for the low concentration of these essential metals in their environment, in particular within a host. The case of iron is particularly well documented with, in some bacteria, the production of molecules called siderophores that specifically capture iron in the medium. Researchers have now identified a new metal scavenging molecule produced in the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and baptized it staphylopine.

Read more: Targeting metals to fight pathogenic bacteria

"The quiet revolutionary" - Emmanuelle Charpentier in Nature Feature

160428 Nature Feature EC[2016-04-27] Nature’s senior European correspondent Alison Abbott visited the Max-Planck-director and UCMR guest professor in her new office in Berlin and talked to her about how the CRISPR findings changed her life. Emmanuelle  Charpentier speaks also about her life before CRISPR-Cas9 and how her lab performed the first key experiments in Austria and Sweden. Statements from former colleagues, supervisors, collaborators and co-funders complete the nice portrait of a scientist who "always seems to be moving while keeping science on the go".

play Read the News Feature in Nature 522 (28 April 2016)

Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

[2016-04-20] Scientists delineate molecular details of a new bacterial CRISPR-Cpf1 system and open possible avenue for alternative gene editing uses like targeting several genes in parallel. (Nature 20 April 2016)

Only a few years after its discovery, it is difficult to conceive of genetics without the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme scissors, which allow for a very simple, versatile and reliable modification of DNA of various organisms. Since its discovery, scientists throughout the world have been working on ways of further improving or adjusting the CRISPR-Cas9 system to their specific needs. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, the Umeå University in Sweden and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig have now discovered a feature of the CRISPR-associated protein Cpf1 that has previously not been observed in this family of enzymes: Cpf1 exhibits dual, RNA and DNA, cleavage activity. In contrast to CRISPR-Cas9, Cpf1 is able to process the pre-crRNA on its own, and then using the processed RNA to specifically target and cut DNA. Not requiring a host derived RNase and the tracrRNA makes this the most minimalistic CRISPR immune system known to date. The mechanism of combining two separate catalytic moieties in one allows for possible new avenues for sequence specific genome engineering, most importantly facilitation of targeting multiple sites at once, the so-called multiplexing.

Read more: Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

France celebrates Emmanuelle Charpentier during the L'Oreal-UNESCO week in Paris

France Inter[2016-03-24] The L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO organise a week with media and scientific meetings for the five laureates of the 2016 L'Oréal- UNESCO For Women in Science Awards in the field of Life Sciences. The French woman Emmanuelle Charpentier is a quested person by the French media, giving TV and radio interviews, meeting the press, and also the scientists and students ath the Académie des Sciences. The L'Oreal organised a media marathon for the laureates which represent five continents: From Latin America, Andrea Gmarnik is honored for her discoveries on mosquito-borne viruses, particularly Dengue Fever. From Asia/Pacific the awardee is Hualan Chen, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Harbin, China, honored for her research about the bird flu virus, which lead to development of vaccine. Abdool Karim, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, represents Africa and the Arab states and is honored for her "remarkable contribution to the prevention and treatment of HIV and associated infections".

ARTEEmmanuelle Charpentier, representing Europe, is awarded "for her game-changing discovery,(...), of a versatile DNA editing technique to “rewrite” flawed genes in people and other living organisms, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases." Which is the same motivation as for Jennifer Doudna, who is the fifth women representing North-America. Nominated by more than 2600 leading scientists, a jury, chaired by Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, selected this year's laureates. The Prize Ceremony is held on Thursday, 24 March at the Sorbonne in Paris.

More information about the 2016 L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in Life Science

Canadian Gairdner Award to Emmanuelle Charpentier

[2016-03-23] The Gairdner Foundation is awarding Emmanuelle Charpentier and four other scientists with the Gairdner International Award 2016, Canada's most prestigious medical award.

The laureates will be awarded in October during a visit in Canada to speak with faculty and students at 20 universities in the country. The Canada Gairdner International Award is given to "biomedical scientists who have made original contributions to medicine resulting in increased understanding of human biology and disease". Each award is valued $ 100,000 CDN, supported by the Canadian government. Emmanuelle Charpentier is honored "for development of CRISPR-CAS as a genome editing tool for eukaryotic cells".

Read more on the webpage of  the Gairdner Foundation

New compounds discovered as possible candidates for new antimicrobial drugs against Listeria infection

Hep cells grown without and with 2 pyridones

 

Scientists at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) have discovered chemical compounds which are able to attenuate the virulence of the bacterial human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Their findings are published today in the high impact journal Cell Chemical Biology.

The dramatic increase of antibiotic resistance makes new antimicrobial strategies necessary. The researchers at Umeå University in Sweden are studying an alternative approach, to inhibit the disease capacity (virulence) of bacteria but not their viability. Compared with traditional antibiotics, which often kill the bacteria, the risk of resistance development in disarmed bacteria is lower, since their survival does not depend on resistance against the new drug.

A Listeria infection can be very severe, particularly among patients such as elderly, infants, immunocompromised or pregnant women. Although disease occurrence is relatively low, Listeria’s severe and sometimes fatal health consequences make it among the most serious foodborne infections, with a mortality of 30%. Listeria is found in unpasteurized dairy products and various ready-to-eat foods, and can grow at refrigeration temperatures. In Sweden, 60-90 people per year get infected and the statistics show that the number of outbreaks is increasing.

The study involved several different Umeå University research groups with diverse specialties: Microbiology, Chemistry and Structural Biology. The group of Jörgen Johansson, professor at the laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) and the Department of Molecular Biology collaborated with the research groups of Elisabeth Sauer-Eriksson and Fredrik Almqvist, both professors at the Department of Chemistry.

Read more: New compounds discovered as possible candidates for new antimicrobial drugs against Listeria...

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