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

October 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: Consortium develops new method to manipulate genetic material

Related Stories

'Moonlighting' molecules discovered

October 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 ...

Researchers discover key to vital DNA, protein interaction

November 9, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A researcher at Iowa State University has discovered how a group of proteins from plant pathogenic bacteria interact with DNA in the plant cell, opening up the possibility for what the scientist calls a "cascade ...

Recommended for you

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050

August 31, 2015

Researchers from CSIRO and Imperial College London have assessed how widespread the threat of plastic is for the world's seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters and penguins, and found the majority of seabird species ...

Researchers unveil DNA-guided 3-D printing of human tissue

August 31, 2015

A UCSF-led team has developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissues, called organoids, more precisely than ever before using a process that turns human cells into a biological equivalent of LEGO bricks. These ...

Study shows female frogs susceptible to 'decoy effect'

August 28, 2015

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers has found that female túngaras, frogs that live in parts of Mexico and Central and South America, appear to be susceptible to the "decoy effect." In their paper published in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.