While many methods exist to measure gene activity for entire genomes (e.g. RNA-seq) such methods do not provide information on which DNA elements drive this gene expression. We apply the SuRE technology to identify which DNA elements drive expression, enabling us to isolate and optimize them for usage in biotechnological applications such as gene therapy and recombinant protein production.
SuRE stands for Survey of Regulatory Elements and was invented and developed by Gen-X founder Joris van Arensbergen during his postdoctoral research in the lab of Bas van Steensel at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. This work was published in Nature Biotechnology early 2017 (Arensbergen et al., 2017). This publication demonstrates that the technology can be used to profile the activity of promoters and enhancers, the two most important types of elements regulating gene expression. The SuRE method is in essence a method to analyse millions of DNA elements for their activity as promoters or enhancers in a single experiment. By analysing ~300 million DNA elements of ~500bp length, an entire human genome can be analysed exhaustively at an approximate 50 fold coverage. Because in SuRE each of the 300 million DNA elements is analysed in isolation, the results reflect the ‘autonomous’ strength of the DNA elements. This makes the results directly applicable to gene therapy and recombinant protein production where promoters and enhancers are also used in isolation to drive expression of a (therapeutic) gene.
The SuRE technology is broadly applicable and has been applied to the human genome, the Chinese hamster genome (CHO), insect genomes, and in collaboration with our partner HRB we are currently preparing a trial for plant genomes.