ISU plant pathologist updates science community on TAL effector proteins groundbreaking research

Oct 11, 2011

In the two years since Iowa State University's Adam Bogdanove, along with student Matthew Moscou, published their groundbreaking gene research in the cover story of the journal Science, researchers around the world have built on those findings to explore further breakthroughs.

Science has published another article by Bogdanove in the Sept. 30 issue that updates the scientific community on where the research has been since 2009 and where it is heading.

"In the past two years, an extraordinary number of things have happened in this field," said Bogdanove, a professor of . "This is really pretty revolutionary."

Bogdanove's research published in 2009 uncovered how so-called TAL (Transcription Activator-like) effector proteins bind to different DNA locations, and how particular in each determine those locations -- called binding sites -- in a very straightforward way.

Knowing this, scientists are using the proteins to target and manipulate specific genes, something that was much more difficult to accomplish prior to this research.

That could lead to breakthroughs in understanding gene function and improving traits in livestock and plants, and even treating human genetic disorders, according to Bogdanove.

Bogdanove says in the two years since his and Moscou's work was published, nearly two dozen research papers have been published using this discovery.

"We are so excited about the potential of these proteins. Just in the past six months they have been used successfully in model organisms such as , , and C. elegans (a type of worm used to study development), and even in human . There is some really innovative stuff going on," he said.

Model organisms are used to understand particular biological functions.

Bogdanove collaborated on this Science article with Dan Voytas, a former member of the Iowa State University faculty and now director of the Center for Genome Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Bogdanove cautions in the article that the power of the technologies based on TAL effectors raises legal, sociological and ethical questions about how their use should be regulated, but says that it may be just a matter of a few years before these proteins see real application in areas such as crop improvement and human medicine.

Explore further: New insights into how different tissues establish their biological and functional identities

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Moonlighting' molecules discovered

Oct 29, 2009

Since the completion of the human genome sequence, a question has baffled researchers studying gene control: How is it that humans, being far more complex than the lowly yeast, do not proportionally contain in our genome ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.