Scissors and tweezers may soon lead the pack of advanced DNA sequencing methods
DNA undergoes numerous biochemical and biophysical changes to modulate gene expression. These epigenetic modifications do not alter the DNA sequence but can affect how it is 'read'. A common example is methylation (addition of CH3), which physically impedes transcription and gene expression. While synthetic chemistry and DNA sequencing techniques have advanced tremendously, they do not preserve critically valuable epigenetic information. The EU-funded EpiSeq project is using high-tech 'molecular scissors' (CRISPR/Cas9 technology) to cut out the small sequence of DNA of interest, and magnetic tweezers to manipulate the molecule and determine its epigenetic sequence. Knowledge of epigenetic changes will inform studies on how gene expression changes cause certain diseases with implications for better diagnoses and treatment.