The groundbreaking research of Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist with the Physical Biosciences, was featured in a New York Times story this week on a powerful new tool for editing DNA. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were credited with leading the discovery in 2012 that an RNA-based component of the bacterial immune system called CRISPR can be programmed to cleave DNA at any chosen nucleotide sequence. The hope is that CRISPR can one day be used as a surgical tool to correct genetic problems that cause disease. The New York Times story can be read here. For more on Doudna’s latest research with CRISPR go here.
Posts Tagged ‘Physical Biosciences Division’
A team of researchers led by Berkeley Lab scientists used scanning electron microscopy to explore, for the first time, how individual Staphylococcus Aureus cells glom onto metallic nanostructures of various shapes and sizes. They found that bacterial adhesion and survival rates vary depending on the nanostructure’s shape. Their work could lead to a more nuanced understanding of what makes a surface less inviting to bacteria. The research was led by Mohammad Mofrad and Zeinab Jahed of the Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley. More>
Heinz Frei, a chemist with the Physical Biosciences Division, led a study in which the first direct, temporally resolved observations of intermediate steps in water oxidation, using cobalt oxide as the catalyst, revealed kinetic bottlenecks whose elimination would help boost the efficiency of artificial photosynthesis systems. Cobalt oxide is an Earth-abundant catalyst considered to be an excellent candidate for efficiently and economically carrying out the water oxidation reaction in artificial photosynthesis. This reaction provides the electrons needed to produce liquid fuels from carbon dioxide and water. Working with Frei on this study were Miao Zhang and Moreno de Respinis. More>
To date, 22 Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) projects have attracted more than $625 million in private-sector follow-on funding after ARPA-E’s investment of approximately $95 million. ARPA-E earlier this week hosted a summit and technology showcase. As part of that event, four project videos were debuted, one of which, on biofuels, mentions the Joint BioEnergy Institute, Jim Kirby (Physical Biosciences), and Christer Janssen (Earth Sciences). More>
Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist with the Physical Biosciences Division whose scientific career has focused on unraveling the mysteries of RNA, has won the 2014 Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences, awarded by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Doudna was recognized for her ground-breaking research into CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a central RNA-based component of the bacterial immune system involved in genome editing and gene-regulation, that has become a powerful new tool for synthetic biology. The Lurie Prize comes with a medal and a $100,000 honorarium, which Doudna will receive at a ceremony on May 20 in Washington, D.C. More>
Alexandra Krawicz — a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis working with Physical Biosciences Division principal investigator Gary F. Moore — was acknowledged for her contributions to the field of Artificial Photosynthesis at the 23rd Western Photosynthesis Conference held in Pacific Grove, CA. Her presentation at the meeting, “Structure, Energetics and Efficiency Analysis of a Cobaloxime Modified Photocathode” described work recently published with coauthor Diana Cedeno and corresponding author Gary F. Moore in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. The research provides an energetics and efficiency analysis of a material capable of harnessing solar energy into fuel.
Jennifer Doudna of the Physical Biosciences Division and Eva Nogales of the Life Sciences Division led a study that provided the first detailed structural look at the Cas9 enzyme and how it partners with guide RNA to interact with target DNA. High-resolution protein crystallography images from the Advanced Light Source and the Swiss Light Source provided the 3D structure of this bacterial enzyme that has become an important tool for genome editing. Single-particle analysis using electron microscopy revealed a surprise role for guide RNA in the genome editing process. More>
As recently reported, Berkeley Lab and Columbia University researchers have identified short DNA sequences known as “PAM” as the reason the bacterial enzyme Cas9 is able to precisely target foreign DNA sequences within genomes that can be billions of base pairs long. The Columbia collaborators, led by Eric Greene and his grad student Sy Redding, have produced an animated video that shows how Cas9 and PAM work together to protect their host from viruses. Illustrated by Myles Marshall, who manages Greene’s laboratory, and set to theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the video provides a fast and lay audience-friendly introduction to an enzyme that is fast becoming a valuable tool for genetic engineering.
Jennifer Doudna of the Physical Biosciences Division, working with Samuel Sternberg, led a study reported in Nature that answered a puzzling question in the bacterial immune system. How is the enzyme known as “Cas9” able to precisely target tiny DNA sequences within genomes that are millions to billions of base pairs long? Through a combination of single-molecule imaging and bulk biochemical experiments, it has been shown that the genome-editing ability of Cas9 is made possible by the presence of short DNA sequences known as “PAM,” for protospacer adjacent motif. Cas9 is fast becoming a valuable tool for synthetic biology and genetic engineering. Other contributors to this work were Eric Greene Sy Redding and Martin Jinek. More>
Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at UC Berkeley — led by Berkeley Lab physical bioscientist Seung-Wuk Lee — saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne pathogens. Turkey skin, it turns out, can shift from red to blue to white, thanks to bundles of collagen that are interspersed with a dense array of blood vessels. More>