Shahar Schwartz Rose Hills
Development of Novel Methods for Gene Editing in Plants
Crops face a wide variety of novel challenges in the field, especially from global warming and the emergence of new plant pathogens. Gene editing technologies (like CRISPR) are a powerful tool to combat these challenges, but we’ve only scratched the surface of how they can be used in plants. During the summer, I’ll be researching several different methods of inducing gene editing in plants. The project I’m most directly involved with uses an enzyme called ProCas9, which is a synthetically modified version of the enzyme Cas9 that could potentially be used to do CRISPR in plants. What’s unique about ProCas9 is that it is activated only when it is cleaved by a particular protease instead of making changes to the genome right away. Because different ProCas9s are only activated by specific proteases, we think that we can exploit the proteases made by plant viruses to trigger an immune response by activating our synthetic gene editing system.