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Dead Useful: CRISPR-Cas9 Epigenome Editing

Given the rapid pace with which genome editing technologies have been developed and adopted, it comes as no surprise that the original CRISPR-Cas9 system has been successfully modified by some very clever scientists. No longer are we limited to the ‘simple’ case of editing the genetic sequence of your biological system of choice, but there…

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Get Prepped: Nanopore Library Preparation Optimization

Nanopore is a relatively new sequencing platform and researchers are still trying to optimize the protocol for their own specific applications. In our lab, we work primarily with metagenomic samples and use the 1D sequencing kits. Over the past year, we have optimized this technique. To check the quality of the Nanopore library preparation we…

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CRISPR-Based Activation (CRISPRa) of Genes: A How-To Guide

The purpose of this article is to walk you through the steps needed to overexpress genes using CRISPR/Cas9-based activation (CRISPRa). A broader overview of this topic (including CRISPR-based repression) can be found here. CRISPR/Cas9 is more than a programmable nuclease. When stripped of its nuclease activity, it can activate and repress transcription, alter chromatin structure,…

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CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Genome editing is a hugely powerful tool which can help you to address a multitude of questions in your research. However, it is not necessarily the best tool for the job in every situation. Below is a discussion of the main advantages and disadvantages associated using CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing. The Pros It’s Simple to…

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Kick-Start Your Gut Microbiome Study in Four Easy Steps

Today, the gut microbiome is garnering a large amount of media attention for its role in human health and disease. From influencing immune responses to impact our brain, the gut microbiome is an important and necessary aspect of our life. So much so, that current investigations in the gut microbiome are focusing on developing biomarkers for…

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Studying the Epigenome by Next Generation Sequencing

The epigenome has been in the research spotlight, and for good reason. Not only has it been associated with the developmental stages of an organism, but epigenetic alterations lead to disorders and have been linked to many human diseases. So, the question stands: what exactly is an epigenome? What Is the Epigenome? Simply put, the…

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Using dbSNP and ClinVar to Classify Gene Variants

As we discussed previously, the gaps in our understanding of the human genome make variant classification an extremely difficult job. However, with each passing day our knowledge increases, and the tools to help us become increasingly more efficient. Let’s pick up where we left off in our first article about variants. After checking Ensemble to…

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De Novo DNA Sequencing and the Special k-mer

The technology for DNA sequencing was developed back in 1977 thanks to Frederick Sanger. It took a bit longer before it was possible to sequence a complete genome. This is because we needed an appropriate mathematical model and massive computational power to assemble millions or billions of small reads to a larger complete genome. Today’s…

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How to Become a Bioinformatician

If you want to start a journey towards being a bioinformatician, you must first know the meaning of the term bioinformatics. You will also need to know what bioinformaticians do, and what you need to know to land your first entry level job as a bioinformatician. Most bioinformaticians work within different medical science and health…

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A Crash Course in BLAST Searching

Simple BLAST searching is pretty straightforward to many of us. Just plug in your sequence, select the species genome, and hit search! But have you ever wondered what it takes to run a BLAST query using these mammoth-sized (no pun intended!) sequence databases? BLAST searching can produce dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of candidate alignments.…

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How to Use Ensembl to Classify Gene Variants

Even though our knowledge about genomes grows daily, and in huge leaps, we sometimes need to remind ourselves that DNA was first isolated in 1869 and its molecular structure was only identified in 1953. The PCR reaction only hit the scientific community as recently as 1983! So even though we are growing fast, we are…

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Next Gen Sequencing Challenges

Next generation sequencing opened the doors to our genome. It gives massive amounts of information in a week – whereas Sanger sequencing takes thrice as long, and causes lab lesions due to the abusive use of pipettes. Indeed, with minimal hands-on procedures we obtain a lot of data. But nothing in Science is ever easy.…

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Codon Optimization 101

The intriguing thing about protein expression is that the combination of transfer RNAs (tRNAs) that translate the 3 letter codon into an amino acid (aa) far exceeds the number of existing amino acids (aa). If you do the math correctly, the maximum number of unique combinations using the triplet code to code for the 4…

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Maxam-Gilbert Sequencing: What Was It, and Why It Isn’t Anymore

In the mid-1970s, two methods were developed for directly sequencing DNA: the Maxam-Gilbert sequencing (or chemical sequencing) method and the Sanger chain-termination method. Indeed, in 1980, both Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger were awarded The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids”. Actually, each got a…

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An Introduction to Nanopore Sequencing

DNA sequencing is the most powerful method to reveal genetic variations at the molecular level, leading to a better understanding of our body in physiological settings, and pathological conditions. It is the beginning of the long road towards better diagnostics and personalized medicine. Even though there have been great advances in DNA sequencing technologies there…

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