Genome Engineering Core Facility launches TALENs, a new gene editing service

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC public relations | March 14, 2013

A common question asked by researchers is, "What is the function of my favorite gene?" One way to answer this is to knock it out from the research model - either a cell or an organism.

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From left: C.B. Gurumurthy, Ph.D., Rolen Quadros and Don Harms offer the TALENs service through the UNMC Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility.
By "knocking out" the gene, researchers can determine the function of the gene by studying the differences between a knocked-out model and a model in which the gene is normal.

Now, thanks to UNMC acquiring a powerful new tool, scientists will be able to knock out genes in their research models very easily. The tool is called TALENs (Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases), and the TALENs service is offered through the UNMC Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility directed by C.B. Gurumurthy, Ph.D., and his team members, Don Harms and Rolen Quadros.

TALENs are protein tools that work like custom-made DNA cutting scissors. TALENs that cut and alter any particular gene can be built in less than two weeks. "With TALENs, it is easy to knock out your favorite gene more reliably and much faster than before," Dr. Gurumurthy said.

He said knocking out a gene is superior to other commonly used approaches such as RNAi, where the gene is only knocked down and the results can be ambiguous. TALENs tools also can be used for creating knockout models of other species other than just the laboratory mouse.

Dr. Gurumurthy said, "The TALENs technology has become a popular method in the past couple years, and many researchers worldwide have been able to learn much more about gene functions using TALENs." He noted that more than 300 high profile research publications used TALENs in 2012.

"For UNMC to be among the first three universities to launch the TALENs service speaks volumes," said Paula Turpen, Ph.D., director of research resources. "Guru's team is always on the forefront of cutting edge technologies and has introduced several services related to gene knockouts and transgenics in the past two years."

"We can build custom TALENs at much less cost than what it would cost to build TALENs in each individual labs," Dr. Gurumurthy said.

The service includes bioinformatics analysis of genomic locus, designing and building of TALENs including consultation on how to use TALENs. For more details, contact Dr. Gurumurthy at cgurumurthy@unmc.edu or visit the Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility website.

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