A Molecular-Scale Movie!

December 2, 2017

by Karine Thate

We wanted to share some cool science news that has been making the rounds recently - a molecular-scale movie showing CRISPR Cas9 in action, searching DNA and then cleaving it at a specific site. CRISPR Cas9 is a breakthrough gene-editing tool that has transformed biology in recent years. While scientists understand how it works, no one had ever really "seen" the molecular scale process... until now. This video was captured with a high-speed atomic force microscope (HS-AFM) and shows the real time dynamics of a single Cas9 RNA molecule in action, without any labeling. This work was done by a group of scientists in Japan (Mikihiro Shibata, Hiroshi Nishimasu, Noriyuki Kodera, Seiichi Hirano, Toshio Ando, Takayuki Uchihashi and Osamu Nureki), and was recently published in Nature Communications (Real-space and real-time dynamics of CRISPR-Cas9 visualized by high-speed atomic force microscopy).

I'm still figuring out how to post video to this blog - but in the meantime, you can see the amazing video here. Cleaving occurs 30 seconds in, and then the video repeats.