Cellectis has negotiated an exclusive license to a targeted genome-engineering technology developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University. The license deal gives Cellectis rights to all uses of the transcription activator-like (TAL) effector IP in all fields. It claims the technology will complement its own meganuclease platform for genome engineering. “Our teams are already leveraging this new technology, and the first research reagents based on it are expected to come onto the market within 12 months,” notes André Choulika, Cellectis CEO.
Further details about the new technology were not released, but in October 2010 the Minnesota and Iowa State University teams published a paper describing a new class of sequence-specific nucleases created by fusing TAL effectors to the catalytic domain of the FokI endonuclease. Published in the Genetics Society of America journal Genetics, the paper explains that TAL effectors are proteins secreted by Xanthomonas bacteria when they infect various plant species. The scientists' research also confirmed that both native and custom TAL effector-nuclease fusions directed DNA double-strand breaks to specific, targeted sites. Their paper was titled, "Targeting DNA Double-Strand Breaks with TAL Effector Nucleases".