Expert Opinions

Expert Interviews

Are researchers interested in using our uniCAS toolkit? To get an answer to that question, we visited experts of various research fields of biology and medicine. We were curious to learn about their application ideas and wanted to discuss safety and ethical issues with them. We also provided our toolkit to them - for the usage in their own research. Below, we put some of the most interesting statements they made in our conversation and a statistic analysis of the question: "How useful do you think CRISPR/Cas could be for your topic of research?"


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Driever

“… together with TALEs, CRISPR/Cas offers a cheap tool to control gene expression without the need of creating transgenic organisms - which is certainly also a benefit from an ethical point of view …”

“… promoter activities are complexly regulated. Thus, we often need more than one copy of a transcriptional regulation domain, such as VP16, targeted to the same gene of interest …”

Developmental Biology

“… genome engineering by CRISPR/Cas9 is a breakthrough that only happens every 10 to 20 years …”

“… the great advantage of repression with dCas9 - in comparison to a complete gene knock out - is, that even vital genes can be targeted …”

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hess

Molecular Genetics

Dr. Satoru Watanabe

“… in this project there are no viruses or stable insertions involved. So biosafety should be of less concern …”

“… in combination with a riboswitch, gene regulation by dCas9 might be controlled more strictly by controlling dCas9 expression …”

Genetics of Cyanobacteria

“... an analogously designed uniCAS plant repressor system could provide an efficient alternative to multi-target RNAi technology ...“

“... what about directing dCas9-GFP to repetitive and adjacent loci on a chromsome - whereby gaining a new variant of Fluorescence in-situ hybridization?“

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hiltbrunner

Light perception of plants

Dr. Jochen Holzschuh

“... I would use this kit to understand the transcriptional codes of brain development better, by simultaneously regulating various promoters of neural transcription factors ...“

“... as a scientist who creates a certain knowledge, responsibility does not stop at the end of his or her own work - instead, the duty of observing the usage of this knowledge by other scientists arises ...“

Neuronal Development

“... Cas9, but only when catalytically functional, may become crucially important for improved herbicide resistance of crops. Regulation alone will probably be insufficient for this issue ...“

“… for CRISPR/Cas9 use in plants, stable integration of the components would be necessary – in combination with tissue specific promoters, spatial constraints may be circumvented …”

Prof. Dr. Peter Beyer

Cell biology of plants

Dr. Georgios Pyrowolakis

“... behavioral genetics of Drosophila melanogaster can be efficiently enhanced through tools such as the CRISPR/Cas9 and uniCAS systems ...“

“… a maybe possible stable control of complex behavior will raise the question if we are allowed to steer animals …”

Fly Development

“… tools such as dCas9 or TAL effectors definitely provide a first glance onto the medicine of tomorrow …”

“... eukaryotic cells are way too complex. Even an efficient regulation of 10 genes at once is only a drop in the bucket …”

Prof. Dr. Peter Stäheli


Dr. Ekkehard Schulze

“… the ageing processes, where hundreds of genes are involved, could be further investigated …”

“… the required dCas9 and crRNA vectors can be easily stably introduced into C. elegans …”

Genetics of nematodes

“... the attractiveness of this system emerges from the possibility of regulating whole clusters of interacting genes ...“

“... in terms of ethical discussions, this new method is not more concerning than ordinary knock-out techniques ...“

Prof. Dr. Annette Neubüser

Developmental Biology

PD Dr. Thomas Kretsch

“... anabolic pathways for specific compounds normally depend on complex serial functions of many enzymes. Thus, biosynthesis of specific secondary plant metabolites or hormone derivatives might be channeled by simultaneously up- or down-regulation of certain key enzymes ...“

Molecular Plant Physiology


To get an idea about the impact of CRISPR/Cas in future research we asked the above anounced scientists, how they would evaluate the CRISPR/Cas system within a scale from 1 till 10, where 10 is the best.

Figure 1: Rating of the CRISPR/Cas system

All experts rated CRISPR/Cas for being a very useful tool for multiplex DNA regulation. So the lowest rating was 7. 43 % of interviewed scientists saw in CRISPR/Cas even a potential revolutionary method that has the power to provide a new impetus to their research.