Introducing Chopped!™: Using CRISPR/Cas to cut DNA

Investigate the mechanisms of CRISPR/Cas9 gene targeting in vitro

Take a close-up look at the molecular machinery that makes CRISPR/Cas9 such a powerful genome editing tool!

DNA being chopped cartoon

CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology has revolutionized the biology world since its introduction in 2012. And in just 10 years since it was developed, CRISPR/Cas is now ready for the classroom! CRISPR/Cas9 has made it possible for scientists to manipulate DNA in the living cells of virtually any organism. But to understand exactly how the CRISPR/Cas9 system works, it is important to investigate the function of the different components that make up the system.

Chopped!™ breaks down how CRISPR works (in a test tube!)

With the new Chopped! Lab, students can now break down exactly how the Cas9 enzyme and guide RNAs (gRNAs) work together to target and cut DNA. Students will be provided with Cas9 enzyme, two different gRNAs and a sample of DNA. Using the sequences of the gRNAs and the DNA, they will first predict where each of the gRNAs will guide the Cas9 enzyme to cut the DNA. Then they will set up reactions to test their predictions!

By using an in vitro system, students will be able to directly mix and match the different gRNAs with the Cas9 enzyme, all by just micropipetting the reagents in tubes—no transformations necessary! Then, they will be able to clearly interpret how those different combinations interact with DNA by running and viewing their results on a standard agarose gel electrophoresis system such as the blueGel electrophoresis system.

An authentic CRISPR lab easy to implement in the classroom

In the Chopped! Lab, students investigate how the Cas9 nuclease can be programmed to target virtually any DNA sequence—just by changing the guide RNA. With Chopped! you and your students will be able to:

  • Use real Cas9 enzyme, DNA, and gRNA, in a straightforward in vitro system
  • Use guide RNA and DNA sequences to predict how Cas9 will interact with DNA
  • Cut DNA using Cas9 enzyme guided by different gRNAs
  • Visualize results using simple agarose gel electrophoresis
  • Demonstrate that guide RNAs direct Cas9 to target specific DNA sequences
  • Bring authentic CRISPR/Cas9 to your students in a classroom friendly system – without growing bacteria or doing transformations!

Once students have demonstrated understanding of Cas9/gRNA function, continue to investigate CRISPR/Cas9 in living organisms with Knockout! The Knockout! lab lets students maipulate DNA in live E. coli. See all the CRISPR/Cas resources available at From hands-on labs, to webinars and video explainers, to engaging paper models and curriculum, we’ve got CRISPR/Cas covered!

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