CRISPRing our cellular roots
The remarkable process by which a single totipotent zygote develops into the approximately 37 trillion cells in a human body is orchestrated by a highly controlled sequence of signaling events resulting in a multitude of differentiated cell types. The ability to retrospectively decipher this lineage of each adult cell would have major implications for understanding tissue development, homeostasis, and disease. Such lineage tracing was first realized over 100 years ago , and while recent advancements such as the Cre-LoxP inducible system have accelerated our knowledge of stem cell biology, limitations exist  and ultimately, current methods are not precise enough to follow a cell through multiple divisions.
Recently, a paper by Kalhor et al harnessed the power of CRISPR “barcoding” to track and reconstruct cellular lineages in mice essentially enabling the tracking of a mammal’s development from a single egg into an embryo . By engineering a Cas9-
In summary, this work revealed that in vivo barcoding can successfully record the history of cells during development and that it is indeed theoretically possible to label each and every one of the ~ 2 x 1010 cells in a mouse. With further refinement of the system [8-10], such approaches have huge potential to massively expand our knowledge of human development and disease.
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