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Novel combination of CRISPR-based gene drives eliminates resistance and localises spread

Research output: Working paper

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Original languageEnglish
PublisherbioRxiv, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2020


Invasive species are among the major driving forces behind biodiversity loss. Gene drive technology may offer a humane, efficient and cost-effective method of control. For safe and effective deployment it is vital that a gene drive is both self-limiting and can overcome evolutionary resistance. We present HD-ClvR, a novel combination of CRISPR-based gene drives that eliminates resistance and localises spread. As a case study, we model HD-ClvR in the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), which is an invasive pest in the UK and responsible for both biodiversity and economic losses. HD-ClvR combats resistance allele formation by combining a homing gene drive with a cleave-and-rescue gene drive. The inclusion of a self-limiting daisyfield gene drive allows for controllable localisation based on animal supplementation. We use both randomly mating and spatial models to simulate this strategy. Our findings show that HD-ClvR can effectively control a targeted grey squirrel population, with little risk to other populations. HD-ClvR offers an efficient, self-limiting and controllable gene drive for managing invasive pests.

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