As a someone with beginner knowledge on biology, I have come across the terms "RNA editing".

Take this paper for example : RNA Editing with CRISPR-Cas13

From my understanding, DNA -> RNA -> Proteins

If we use a vector for delivering a gene to a cell in-vivo, does it mean that corrections aren't permanent for RNA edits?


1 Answer 1


There are several differences, both mechanistically and functionally.

  1. DNA edits are heritable by the daughter cells and are therefore permanent whereas RNA edits are not.
  2. The type of Cas protein used in the editing process for DNA and RNA are different.
  3. In the paper that you linked the authors have fused an RNA editing enzyme (ADAR) with dCas13 (a variant that does not cleave the target). So the CRISPR-Cas system directs ADAR to the sites on RNA that need to be edited. Usually when editing the DNA with CRISPR-Cas, people rely on the ability of the complex to cleave the DNA. This double strand break may be then repaired using different pathways (NHEJ and HR) during which editing happens. See these posts for more details:
         How is the type of genetic manipulation determined in CRISPR-Cas9?
         Mutations/deletions with CRISPR
         How does NHEJ cause indels?
  4. It is also possible to edit DNA in a way that does not involve cutting of the DNA. These techniques use similar principle as in the case of RNA editing described in the paper that you linked (see the abstract and introduction of this paper). However, if you cut the RNA, then it will be completely degraded instead of being repaired.
  • $\begingroup$ +1 on the answer overall, but should probably clarify that only some DNA edits are heritable (whereas RNA edits are generally not). There’re important conversations about somatic (non-heritable) and germine (heritable) gene editing, and both of those are DNA cuts, I believe. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @CalendarJ By heritable, I meant the daughter cells of a cell, not the entire organism. $\endgroup$
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:20

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