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Scientist engineered a chicken resistant to virus using CRISPR.

  

Using the CRISPR genome editing, researchers have created a chicken resistant to ALV-J Virus.
 
Chicken is the most important source of food in many countries. It is a preferred food over other meat product as it is considered more hygienic and less expensive. The booming poultry industry is currently estimated to be worth 46.3 billion.
Avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J) has been a major concern for the poultry industry. The virus is responsible for huge economic loss incurred to poultry farmers due to viral infection of chickens. The virus gets inside the cell of chicken by binding to a receptor, called chicken NHE-1 which resides on the surfaces of the chicken cell. This receptor is necessary for the virus to enter the cell.

Using CRISPR genome editing, a scientist first collected the germ cells and deleted three nucleotides in a gene that codes for the receptor. The germs cells were grown and made developed into a mature bird. The birds were then tested for its resistance by infecting the cells with the virus. They found that the virus could not infect the cell since the receptor has been deleted. Both in vitro and in vivo supports the claim of resistance.
There have been various reports concerning the off-targets of CRISPR Cas genome editing in the past. So, the researcher checked the off-targets. They could not find a single off-target. This shows that CRISPR is a genome-editing tool with high specificity.
This also shows that editing the gene for a virus receptor could confer resistance to the virus.

Reference: Precise CRISPR/Cas9 editing of the NHE1 gene renders chickens resistant to the J subgroup of avian leukosis virus. PNAS, Jan 2020.



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