CRISPR-Cas9 technology: applications in genome engineering, development of sequence-specific antimicrobials, and future prospects
The development of CRISPR-Cas9 technology has revolutionized our ability to edit DNA and to modulate expression levels of genes of interest, thus providing powerful tools to accelerate the precise engineering of a wide range of organisms. In addition, the CRISPR-Cas system can be harnessed to design “precision” antimicrobials that target bacterial pathogens in a DNA sequence-specific manner. This capability will enable killing of drug-resistant microbes by selectively targeting genes involved in antibiotic resistance, biofilm formation and virulence. Here, we review the origins and mechanistic basis of CRISPR-Cas systems, discuss how this technology can be leveraged to provide a range of applications in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems, and finish by outlining limitations and future prospects.