Wednesday, December 18, 2019

This year’s gene-write with “ready for space” focus

gpwrite-2019  |  P23. Genetic Engineering of Human Cells for Radiotolerance Craig Westover, Sherry Yang, Sonia Iosim, Deena Najjar, Daniel Butler, Daniela Bezdan, Christopher E. Mason. Weill Cornell, New York, New York, United States Space flight has been documented to produce a number of detrimental physiological effects as a result of cosmic radiation. Space radiation is about 100 times higher than the average effective dose per year from natural radiation on earth and has the ability to produce DNA double stranded breaks leading to increased chromosomal aberrations. The harsh environmental effects of space on organisms have also been studied on the molecular level and as such have shed light on some of the underlying mechanisms that give rise to space induced alterations of cellular functions such as proliferation, differentiation, maturation, and cell survival. Our lab was recently involved in the NASA Twin Project where we analyzed Scott Kelly’s genome, transcriptome, and corresponding epigenetic modifications in response to 1 year of space flight. With this information in mind we are now moving on to genetically engineering HEK293 cells to survive ionizing cosmic radiation.

P28. Detecting evidence of genetic engineering Yuchen Ge, Jitong Cai, Joel S. Bader Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States Detecting evidence of genetic engineering is important for biosecurity, provenance, and intellectual property rights. The need for monitoring and detection is growing with contemplated release of gene drive systems. We describe results of a computational systems designed to detect engineering from DNA sequencing of biological samples, including automated identification of host strains, detection of foreign gene content, and detection of watermarks. Our results demonstrate near perfect identification of foreign gene content in blinded samples, but less ability to detect more subtle engineering associated with watermarks that blend in with natural variation. We describe plans for future improvements.