CRISPR gene-editing systems 3D animation
  • Share

The CRISPR systems visualization project was created by Visual Science biologists and scientific visualization experts with support from the Skoltech Biotechnology faculty. The animation is based on molecular modeling and dynamics, which allowed us to produce accurate models of natural and engineered CRISPR complexes, as well as to visualize the interiors of the bacterial cell and human cell nucleus. The visualization demonstrates both natural (bacterial) and genetically-engineered CRISPR systems, and explains possibilities of using them for human gene editing.

Molecular animations are an essential way to demystify and explain complex biological systems. Through the use of stunning imagery and attention to detail, Visual Science and Skoltech have captured the dynamic mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas proteins and their use as research tools.

— Dr. Jennifer Doudna, Professor of the Depts. of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the UC Berkeley, Executive Director of the Innovative Genomics Institute

This animation and its beautiful imageries are very helpful for explaining complicated scientific concepts. These are great educational tools!

— Dr. Feng Zhang, Core Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

Attention to detail, beautiful imagery and in-depth information about the CRISPR-Cas mechanisms. This is a perfect example of how complex biochemical processes on the molecular level can be visualized. Visual Science and Skoltech have produced excellent work!

— Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Honorary Professor at Humboldt University

About CRISPR and CRISPR-Cas9

CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are special regions in the bacterial DNA that store the fragments of the genomes of the parasites (bacteriophages) that previously infected this type of bacteria. CRISPR give bacteria the opportunity to detect and destroy foreign DNA and thus protect themselves from infections. The loci are sources of the crispr-RNAs, which serve as key components of the alien DNA destruction complexes, that also include effector DNA-cutting proteins. One of the best-studied CRISPR complexes uses the protein called Cas9.

Scientists learned how to modify natural CRISPR-Cas9 system and program it to recognize almost any desired DNA sequence in human, animal, plant or any other cell. After the recognition CRISPR effector can bind the target DNA at programmed site, cut it or in case of additional modifications to the system, alter gene expression, remodel DNA spatial organization or mark desired regions of the genome. Native and engineered CRISPR—effectors are precise, adjustable and easy to use DNA-editing tools that have a tremendous potential for multiple applications in curing genetic diseases, designing new and improved crops, fighting pests and conducting cutting-edge basic research.

A wonderful video! It perfectly combines visual appeal and scientific accuracy. The models of Cas proteins are amazing and convey enormous amount of information in just a few minutes.

— Dr. Eugene V. Koonin, Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Beautifully made! As a structural biologist, I really like the movie in that it depicts the real shapes and structures of the molecules involved in CRISPR-Cas.

— Dr. Martin Jinek, Professor of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Zurich

About Skoltech

The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private research and academic institute founded in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Located in Skolkovo, Russia, a suburb of Moscow, Skoltech educates innovation leaders and fosters new technologies aimed at addressing critical global issues. Skoltech’s Biotechnology faculty offers MSc and PhD programs that focus on the data-intensive fields of biomedicine and biotechnologies, with an emphasis on bioinformatics and mathematical biology. The faculty’s international collaborators include scientists from MIT, NIH, Rutgers University, the Pasteur Institute and other premier institutions worldwide.

The CRISPR animation was created in the course of Skoltech students industry immersion program.

The video is visually compelling, and the narrative a great intro to the science behind CRISPR and the repurposing of Cas proteins for various genome editing applications

— Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou, Associate Professor of Food Science of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University

It is a great teaching resource that I will definitely use in my class explaining CRISPR and genome editing for the students

— Dr. Virginijus Siksnys, Chief Scientist and Head of the Department of Protein-DNA Interactions in the Institute of Biotechnology at Vilnius University

This movie about CRISPR sums up the main aspects of these amazing systems, from their genuine role and mechanism in the natural carriers, to the astonishing and diverse applications of the technology, which have come out of their study. Science is always useful, very often interesting even to non-scientists and sometimes gets the level of beauty. The film is the typical example of how interesting, useful and beautiful science could be, doing so in a very accurate and magnificent way

— Dr. Francisco Juan Martinez Mojica, Professor of the Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Alicante
  • General Producer
    Ivan Konstantinov
  • Screenwriter, Director:
    Yury Stefanov, PhD
  • Researchers, Molecular Modellers
    Dmitrii Shcherbinin, PhD, and Polina Shichkova and Daria Romanovskaia (Skoltech)
  • Scientific Supervisor:
    Professor Konstantin Severinov (Skoltech)
  • 3D Modellers and Animators:
    Yury Stefanov, Alex Kovalevsky and Yaroslav Storozhev
  • Visualization and Compositing Artists:
    Ivan Konstantinov, Alexey Vaitvud, Vladimir Mischenko, Timur Abdusadykov
  • Animation Supervisor:
    Sergey Ivanchuk
  • Designer:
    Kirill Martianov
  • Art Director:
    Ivan Konstantinov
  • Project Managers:
    Ivan Konstantinov, Yury Stefanov
  • Narrator:
    Satauna Howery
  • Communications Manager:
    Anastasia Demina

We are grateful to Maria Kolesnikova from Skoltech for her help in project implementation.