In Science this week, a team led by scientists from the University of Washington report on the use of the genome-editing technology CRISPR to create genetic barcodes that can help track the linage of cells in a living organism. Called Genome Editing of Synthetic Target Arrays for Lineage Tracing, or GESTALT, the method introduces unique patterns of mutations into a distinct, short genetic sequence. The DNA sequence of these mutated barcodes in daughter cells can then be used to reconstruct cell lineage relationships. The scientists demonstrated their technique in cell culture and live zebrafish.
Also in Science, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-led group describes a new strategy the enables the programmed design of a variety of DNA structures. In the method, which provides a more efficient top-down approach for designing these structures compared with existing bottom-up methods, objects are represented as closed surfaces rendered as polyhedral networks of parallel DNA duplexes, which enables complete DNA scaffold routing with a spanning tree algorithm. Asymmetric polymerase chain reaction is then applied to produce stable, monodisperse assemblies with custom scaffold length and sequence.