Precise Genome Editing for Plant Engineering

Life Technologies recently launched the GeneArt® Precision TALs Products and Services, generally referred to as TAL effector proteins (TALE), which allow plant researchers the ability to edit genomes and control gene activity with unprecedented precision and reliability.

The TAL effectors have broad utility in plant sciences, from biofuel feed stocks to agricultural crop plant engineering to basic plant biology research.

“We’re very excited about this technology and its implications for plant science research,” said Nathan Wood, vice president of synthetic biology at Life Technologies.  “With GeneArt® Precision TAL technology, scientists are provided research use access with a clear licensing path for commercial use through the Two Blades Foundation, making it the first technology of its kind ideal for plant and ag bio researchers.”

TAL effectors can be designed to bind to specific DNA sequences selected by researchers and can deliver a variety of functional elements to activate or repress gene expression or to cut and insert DNA with precision. TAL proteins have an advantage over competing zinc finger technology in that they are simpler to design, bind with greater specificity, displaying fewer “off-target” events.

“People realize now that transgenes should be precisely expressed in plant tissues and at certain times—just as nature does it,” said Neal Stewart, Ph.D., professor of plant sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Synthetic biology offers the prospects of designing promoters to tightly regulate gene expression.”

TALs have the unique capabilities of being targeted, robustly, to promoters in plants—both endogenous promoters and our engineered synthetic promoters—to boost gene expression in a predictable way. The simple TAL effector translation code allows researchers to specifically design TAL binding proteins to bind to a DNA sequence of choice.  Researchers specify a sequence they wish to target, and receive a gene encoding the TAL protein that will target it.

“Synthetic biology is just showing up in agricultural and environmental plant research,” said Stewart. “We are making quantum leaps at being able to have an order of precision in gene expression that was unavailable just a few years ago. 

“Couple precision with metabolic engineering, and there you have a game-changer in agriculture.”

GeneArt® Precision TALs are supplied as Gateway® compatible entry clones encoding a DNA binding protein for a specific customer-submitted sequence fused to a range of customer selected effector domains. Custom TALs will typically be delivered within two weeks after orders are placed.

Watch the below video to learn more about GeneArt® Precision TALs.