A new method to insert large DNA sequences into the human genome

One scientist looking at another scientist during an experiment

We would like to highlight a reNEW publication from Leiden University Medical Center. Albert Blanch Asensio, led by Richard Davis and Christine Mummery, have published an article in Cell Reports Methods entitled: ‘STRAIGHT-IN: A platform for high-throughput targeting of large DNA payloads in human pluripotent stem cells’.

New possibilities to modify stem cells
Inserting large DNA sequences into specific sites in the human genome is still very challenging. Albert and his co-workers developed a method which they nicknamed STRAIGHT-IN, that can solve this issue. STRAIGHT-IN can insert DNA sequences with virtually no size limits into precise locations in the human genome. The efficiency of STRAIGHT-IN also means they can simultaneously target multiple different DNA sequences into the stem cells.

In the article they demonstrate the utility of STRAIGHT-IN for generating a single cell line that can report changes in the electrical activity, calcium signaling and contractility of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes, as well as modelling genetic mutations that can cause cardiac arrhythmias.

Graphic illustration of DNA strands being inserted into a human cell.

Richard is very excited about the possibilities STRAIGHT-IN offers. “Not only will STRAIGHT-IN expedite generating hPSC lines containing complex genetic circuits, which is an asset for the synthetic biology field, but it also facilitates the simultaneous generation of panels of hiPSC lines carrying various genetic mutations. This means we can more rapidly create in vitro hPSC disease models that can then help to develop patient-specific treatments.”

Congratulations to Albert, Catarina Grandela (co-first author), Richard, Christine and their team!

3.5M euros for research into embryonic implantation

How does the embryo implant into the uterus? 11 researchers, including reNEW Leiden PI Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes, receive a MSCA Doctoral Networks Grant worth 3.5M euros to investigate this understudied and poorly understood process.