Dover-Sherborn High School
The advent of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology for genome editing has opened up a wealth of avenues of tackling biomedical research. In the Regev lab, where Lila spent her summer, CRISPR/Cas9 is used to study the immune system: by knocking out particular genes, one can study their importance downstream in the innate immune response. Important in these experiments is the ability to perform pooled genetic screens in order to get a readout of the transcriptome of a single cell. One tool for performing such pooled screens, known as CRISPR droplet sequencing (CROP-seq), is able to perform pooled screens with single-cell transcriptome resolution, but due to a limitation of the method has not seen much success in mammalian cell lines. Lila’s project involved improving CROP-seq for use in mammalian cells. Lila cloned a red fluorescent protein into a CRISPR/Cas9 guide vector and successfully infected mammalian dendritic cells with it. She showed that the distribution of guides in her pool was comparable to that of CROP-seq, giving validation to this method as a viable alternative for conducting pooled genetic screens.
Lila was extremely enthusiastic about the coding aspect of her BSSP project, where she used Python to analyze sequencing data. “This summer I had my first in depth experiences with computer science and it has definitely pushed me to continue pursuing coding,” said Lila. “It was so exciting to apply what I’d learned to sift through genetic data and make useful graphic representations.”