The action of CRISPR-Cas9 has been described in a wide variety of different ways in the media. ‘Molecular scissors’; ‘a way to copy and paste DNA’; these descriptions are highly effective at communicating the simplicity and ease of the CRISPR method, but do not actually show how this remarkable molecular machine goes to work to alter DNA.

This fantastic animation from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT shows the mechanics of the process, how Cas9 goes to work locating the desired region of the genome and making precise cuts, removals, and insertions. If you’ve ever wondered how those ‘molecular scissors’ really work, here is your handy guide!

More on these topics