Scientists have used a programmable CRISPR-based method called pgSIT to generate sterile but competitive males of the species Drosophila suzukii that poses a threat to food crops in western countries. If deployed at scale in the wild, the technology could potentially be effective in specifically and safely curbing this pest population. The authors claim that the method can be modified to target other pest species, precluding the need for environmentally unfriendly pesticides.
Scientists have engineered the composition and number of the nuclear localization sequence (NLS) in an alternative CRISPR nuclease, Cas12a, to markedly increase its gene editing rate. The optimization strategy that involves including three NLSs at the carboxy terminus can be broadly applied to other Cas12a orthologs and variants to improve on-target activity without undermining the inherent specificity of these nucleases. The authors have demonstrated the improved activity of the upgraded Cas12a ex vivo and believe they are translatable to in vivo applications.