Different types of gene drives

Published on May 30, 2024   44 min

Other Talks in the Series: Gene-Drives and Active Genetics

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Hello. I'm Jackson Champer, a scientist at Peking University and I'd like to tell you a little bit about the many different types of gene drives available. My hope is that even though we won't cover every single possible type of gene drive in this talk that after listening, you'll get a better idea of many different possibilities for gene drive and what some of the unique advantages of the different types of gene drives are.
First of all, what is a gene drive? A gene drive is an engineered genetic construct that can be placed into an individual making it a transgenic gene drive individual. We can then take some of these individuals with gene drive and release it into a wild-type population. Over time, the gene drive is then able to bias its inheritance and increase in frequency in the population until eventually potentially all the individuals in that population will have the gene drive. This makes it a potentially very powerful tool for manipulating wild populations with only a very small effort needed, just the release of a few individuals.
Here's an example showing normal Mendelian inheritance. Here your orange allele is a heterozygote. That means this individual has one special allele and one normal wild-type allele. Half of the offspring then will receive this normal allele in each generation and that means if there's no fitness costs, this normal allele is expected to stay at the same frequency in the population. This gene drive example shows what might happen if you have a powerful gene drive. This red allele here even though it's a heterozygote, this red allele actually is passed on to all of the offspring and because that happens in every generation, your gene drive is able to very rapidly increase in frequency.