2
$\begingroup$

Is it possible to detect whether an organism has been gene edited? For example, if someone gene-edits a human embryo (e.g., as He Jiankui did last year), can one later detect whether the human has been gene-edited?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is largely going to depend on what is changed. Gene editing can cover a wide range of things. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 3 '19 at 1:55
7
$\begingroup$

If you had access to the DNA of the organism's parent(s) then you could make an inference about whether the child's genome is consistent with being edited, assuming that the edit was done early enough in the embryo's existence for the edit to be present in all/most of its cells. If the organism is a chimera/mosaic, then it may be possible to detect the edit by comparing different tissues within the organism, and identifying differences which do not look like 'natural' somatic mutations. However, I don't think we have a good handle yet on what the natural range of somatic mutations looks like, so it might be difficult to assess whether any difference found were of an engineered origin.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think you're last point is very important - depending on the type of change introduced (and the technique used) it could look like a single point mutation or other minor changes that are indistinguishable from natural chance events. $\endgroup$ – Nicolai Aug 2 '19 at 15:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.