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Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

In BMC Genomics, University of Oxford researchers consider epigenetic effects on CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, particularly for off-target editing activity. With the help of an off-target database known as crisprSQL, coupled with machine learning methods for predicting off-target activity, the team tallied the consequences of 19 epigenetic features, including 13 nucleosome organization features found computationally and half a dozen epigenetic features determined experimentally using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing, CTCF, DNase I, H3K4me3, MNase, and DRIP profiles. "Our comprehensive computational analysis helps the CRISPR-Cas9 community better understand the relationship between epigenetic features and CRISPR-Cas9 off-target activity," the authors write, noting that "[a]s a practical research contribution, we make the off-target dataset containing all 19 epigenetic features available to the research community."