Abstract: Series 110, Lecture 6

The Harvey Lectures Series 110 (2014—2015)

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Lecture #6: Thursday, April 16, 2015 — Watch Video of Lecture

The Biology of CRISPRs: From Genome Defense to Genomic Engineering

Jennifer Doudna, PhD

Jennifer Doudna, PhD

Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
Professor of Chemistry
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Dr Doudna's Website

Many bacteria and archaea use adaptive immunity based on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) loci to defend against invading foreign nucleic acids. CRISPR systems include specific enzymes that produce short RNA molecules capable of base pairing with viral and plasmid sequences to block their propagation. I will discuss our recent work to uncover the molecular basis for RNA-directed DNA recognition and cleavage. Molecular structures of the CRISPR machinery for targeting nucleic acids will be presented, revealing how the RNA is used to identify specific sequences for targeted destruction. Based on these structures and related biochemical studies, we find interesting parallels between CRISPR systems and eukaryotic RNAi pathways.