Genome editing based on programmable nucleases (a.k.a. designer nucleases) entails the modification of specific genomic sequences in living cells for the purpose of determining, ablating or altering their meaning. There are currently many crucial aspects underlying these technologies that require further research and refinement. These aspects include devising improved methods for delivering the often large and complex molecular tools into target cells; and increasing the specificity and fidelity of genome editing procedures. My research activities in this field include: (i) Investigating how to deliver the necessary programmable nuclease and donor DNA templates into human cells, namely, by testing the suitability of different types of viral vector systems; and (ii) studying the impact that epigenetic mechanisms have on the performance of genome editing tools and strategies involving the recruitment of specific DNA repair pathways (e.g., non-homologous end-joining and homology-directed repair).
I obtained my M.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Zhe Jiang Sci-Tech University, China. From 2009 to 2010, I worked as a FACS expert in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC. My main tasks were sorting various immune cells from human or mouse peripheral blood or organs and optimizing multicolour staining. In 2011, I worked for one year as a research technician in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, LUMC. I focused on developing adenoviral and lentiviral vectors for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy gene therapy. At the end of 2011, I moved to the United States where I investigated for a few months in Craig Crews’ group at Yale University, USA, the roles of multiple genes in Salamander limb regeneration. In 2012, I moved back to the Netherlands and joined Manuel Goncalves’ group, focusing on improving genome editing technologies.
In trans paired nicking triggers seamless genome editing without double-stranded DNA cutting.
Chen X, Janssen JM, Liu J, Maggio I, 't Jong AEJ, Mikkers HMM, Gonçalves MA
Nat Commun. 8, 657 (2017). doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00687-1.
The Chromatin Structure Differentially Impacts High-Specificity CRISPR-Cas9 Nuclease Strategies.
Chen X, Liu J, Janssen JM, Gonçalves MAFV.
Mol. Ther. Nucleic Acids. 8, 558-563 (2017). doi: 10.1016/j.omtn.2017.08.005.
Probing the impact of chromatin conformation on genome editing tools.
Chen X, Rinsma M, Janssen JM, Liu J, Maggio I, Gonçalves MA.
Nucleic Acids Res. 44, 6482-6492 (2016). doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw524.