Engineering species-like barriers to sexual reproduction

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15 Scopus citations


Controlling the exchange of genetic information between sexually reproducing populations has applications in agriculture, eradication of disease vectors, control of invasive species, and the safe study of emerging biotechnology applications. Here we introduce an approach to engineer a genetic barrier to sexual reproduction between otherwise compatible populations. Programmable transcription factors drive lethal gene expression in hybrid offspring following undesired mating events. As a proof of concept, we target the ACT1 promoter of the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae using a dCas9-based transcriptional activator. Lethal overexpression of actin results from mating this engineered strain with a strain containing the wild-type ACT1 promoter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number883
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.M. and M.J.S. are supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President of Research and by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (grant number D17AP00028). The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this article are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies, either expressed or implied, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or the Department of Defense. S.C.H. and M.J.S. are supported by an award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. J.M.C. is supported by a grant from the Biocatalysis Initiative at the University of Minnesota. Microscopy imaging and analysis was performed at the University Imaging Centers, University of Minnesota. Flow cytometry was performed using University Flow Cytometry Resource services, University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


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