Gene drive technology to suppress invasive mice

Technology ad mures opprimendos incursio

Overview of t haplotype modification strategies for population suppression. (A) Integration of the transgene within the t haplotype expressing Cas9 under the control of a male-specific or non-specific promoter, coupled to a ubiquitously expressed grNA targeting a haploinsufficient female fertility gene. (B) inheritance tw2 available in males, but not in females. In t*CRISPR system, Cas9 is only active in males and, ubiquitously expressed grNA, disrupts the haplosufficient female fertility gene in the germline. tCRISPR males transmit t *CRISPR transgene and gene disrupted fertility in ∼95% and 100% of offspring, respectively. The t *CRISPR(2) the plan is identical except that Cas9 acts on the male and female germline, generating a faster increase in female infertility alleles. The prl* mice contain a sequence difference at the grNA target site but retain protein function, making the mice resistant to further cleavage at the same site. (C) Fertility of male and female mice carrying different versions of chromosome 17 and Prl within the target chromosome. Credit: Journal of the Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2213308119

Researchers at the University of Adelaide have released their first findings on the potential effectiveness of a new enforcement technology to control rat infestations.

The team developed the world’s first proof of concept for a technology called t-CRISPR-using laboratory mice.

Using sophisticated computer models co-first author Dr. Aysegul Birand’s results, the researchers also found that about 250 genetically modified mice were able to eradicate the island’s population of 200,000 mice in about 20 years.

The results of the study were published today Journal of the Academy of Sciences.

“This is the first time a new genetic tool has been identified to suppress an invasive mouse population by inducing female infertility,” said lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide, and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

“The T-CRISPR approach uses edge-editing DNA technology to alter the female fertility gene. Once the population is saturated with genetic modification, all females that are born will be infertile.

“We are also developing new versions of the t-CRISPR technology that are designed to target specific pest populations to prevent the spread of unwanted driver genes.”

Post-graduate student Lucas Gierus, co-lead author of the research paper, said t-CRISPR is the first genetic biocontrol tool for invasive mammals.

“Until now, this insect technology has tried to try and end the spread of malaria, which causes up to 500,000 deaths every year,” Mr. Gierus said.

“The use of t-CRISPR technology provides a humane approach to control mouse invasions without releasing toxins into the environment. We are also working on projects to prevent eradication failures due to the development of resistance genes in the target population.”

Professor Thomas said the research team has worked closely with the Australian National Science Agency’s CSIRO, the Center for Invasive Species Solutions, the Genetic Biocontrol for Invasive Rodents (GBIRd) consortium and the US Department of Agriculture to consider the next steps to safely foster the new technology.

“Our broader program includes consideration of social beliefs and attitudes, and is integral to our ongoing research into this type of driver,” Professor Thomas said.

CSIRO Group Leader for Environmental Mitigation and Resilience Dr. Owain Edwards added, “This particular model was designed to be very specific to rats, but it could also be used to develop evidence of gene activity against other animal pests.

“As part of this research, we are bringing the safety evaluations of this technology to the highest standards. Because this is the first prototype for the development of the vertebrate species involved, many from the international community will be involved.”

The research was supported by the Australian Government and the Southern NSW Government.

South Australian Deputy Premier, Hon. Dr. Susan Close MP said: “These promising findings show how enforcement technology can be a game-changer in the impact of managing rats on our environment, community and agricultural sector.

“This research line also highlights South Australia’s global leadership in research in finding solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges.”

More information:
Lucas Gierus et al, Natural murine meiotic driving to suppress population invasions; Journal of the Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2213308119

Provided by the University of Adelaide

Citation: gene drive technology to suppress invasive mice (2022, November 9) Retrieved November 9, 2022 from

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