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We have exploited the repetitive nature of transposable elements of the human genome to generate synthetic circuits. Transposable elements such as LINE-1 and Alu have successfully replicated in mammalian genomes throughout evolution to reach a copy number ranging from thousands to more than a million. Targeting these repetitive elements with programmable DNA nucleases such as CRISPR-Cas9 rapidly induce extremely high levels of cell death. We use this genotoxic feature to build synthetic biocontainment circuits: CRISPR defense system (CRISPR-DS) capable of preventing CRISPR genome editing, and we introduce the proof-of-concept of CRISPR Safety-Switch, an inducible, stringent and non-leaky kill-switch capable of clearing out cell lines resistant to DNA breaks.

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