2020 collection: CRISPR/Cas technology
On October 7 2020, The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for 'the development of a method for genome editing'. Although genome editing technologies such as zinc-finger nucleases and TALENS existed before the work of Charpentier and Doudna, CRISPR/Cas technology has revolutionised the developmental biology field, dramatically cutting the time and effort involved in making targeted mutations in model organisms and, importantly, giving us tools for genome editing that can be used in a wide range of non-traditional model systems. Not only that, but the CRISPR system has been adapted in a multitude of innovative ways to allow us to conduct genetic screens, control gene expression, perform complex lineage tracing experiments and more.
In this subject collection, we highlight just a few of the CRISPR papers published in Development since Charpentier and Doudna's groundbreaking work - from early applications of CRISPR to the Drosophila system through to recent uses of CRISPR for single cell lineage tracing. Of course, CRISPR has not been without its controversies, perhaps most notably in 2018 when the first CRISPR-edited human babies were announced. In this collection, we also include two Spotlight articles that discuss the technical and ethical challenges with using CRISPR in human, and a third that highlights how our understanding of developmental biology - combined with genome engineering - might influence agricultural science.