Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macau SAR, China.
Cancer development is a multistep process triggered by innate and acquired mutations, which cause the functional abnormality and determine the initiation and progression of tumorigenesis. Gene editing is a widely used engineering tool for generating mutations that enhance tumorigenesis. The recent developed clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated 9 (CRISPR-Cas9) system renews the genome editing approach into a more convenient and efficient way. By rapidly introducing genetic modifications in cell lines, organs and animals, CRISPR-Cas9 system extends the gene editing into whole genome screening, both in loss-of-function and gain-of-function manners. Meanwhile, the system accelerates the establishment of animal cancer models, promoting in vivo studies for cancer research. Furthermore, CRISPR-Cas9 system is modified into diverse innovative tools for observing the dynamic bioprocesses in cancer studies, such as image tracing for targeted DNA, regulation of transcription activation or repression. Here, we view recent technical advances in the application of CRISPR-Cas9 system in cancer genetics, large-scale cancer driver gene hunting, animal cancer modeling and functional studies.
Keywords: CRISPR, cancer, genome editing, large-scale screening, animal model.