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Nature. 2017 Jul 20;547(7663):345-349. doi: 10.1038/nature23017. Epub 2017 Jul 12.

CRISPR-Cas encoding of a digital movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria.

Author information

1
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
2
Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Center for Brain Science, and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard University, Bauer Laboratory 103, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
3
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

Abstract

DNA is an excellent medium for archiving data. Recent efforts have illustrated the potential for information storage in DNA using synthesized oligonucleotides assembled in vitro. A relatively unexplored avenue of information storage in DNA is the ability to write information into the genome of a living cell by the addition of nucleotides over time. Using the Cas1-Cas2 integrase, the CRISPR-Cas microbial immune system stores the nucleotide content of invading viruses to confer adaptive immunity. When harnessed, this system has the potential to write arbitrary information into the genome. Here we use the CRISPR-Cas system to encode the pixel values of black and white images and a short movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria. In doing so, we push the technical limits of this information storage system and optimize strategies to minimize those limitations. We also uncover underlying principles of the CRISPR-Cas adaptation system, including sequence determinants of spacer acquisition that are relevant for understanding both the basic biology of bacterial adaptation and its technological applications. This work demonstrates that this system can capture and stably store practical amounts of real data within the genomes of populations of living cells.

PMID:
28700573
PMCID:
PMC5842791
DOI:
10.1038/nature23017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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