Discovery helps improve accuracy of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing

A detailed study of how domains within the Cas9 protein move when the molecule binds to DNA has allowed scientists to locate the protein that monitors the fidelity of binding between the Cas9 single-guide RNA and its DNA target. The researchers then tweaked this domain to boost specificity, creating the highest fidelity Cas9 protein to date.

Newly ID'd role of major Alzheimer's gene suggests possible therapeutic target

A new role has been identified for the major Alzheimer’s risk factor ApoE4, suggesting that targeting the protein may help treat the disease. Researchers show that ApoE4 exacerbates the brain damage caused by toxic tangles of a different Alzheimer’s-associated protein: tau. In the absence of ApoE, tau tangles did very little harm to brain cells.

Genome editing reveals role of gene important for human embryo development

Researchers have used genome editing technology to reveal the role of a key gene in human embryos in the first few days of development. This is the first time that genome editing has been used to study gene function in human embryos, which could help scientists to better understand the biology of our early development.

A piece of the puzzle: Eight autism-related mutations in one gene

Researchers discover a large number of clustered mutations in a single gene, TRIO, that disrupt the development of the brain’s connections and likely contribute to the development of autism-spectrum disorders. The scientists also find that a sister gene linked to schizophrenia, KALRN, is inactive in early brain development, but becomes active in adolescence.