Systematic reverse-engineering of functional genome architecture requires precise modifications of gene sequences and transcription levels. The development and application of transcription activator-like effectors(TALEs) has created a wealth of genome engineering possibilities. TALEs are a class of naturally occurring DNA-binding proteins found in the plant pathogen Xanthomonas
species. The DNA-binding domain of each TALE typically consists of tandem 34-amino acid repeat modules rearranged according to a simple cipher to target new DNA sequences. Customized TALEs can be used for a wide variety of genome engineering applications, including transcriptional modulation and genome editing. Such "genome engineering" has now been established in human cells and a number of model organisms, thus opening the door to better understanding gene function in model organisms, improving traits in crop plants and treating human genetic disorders.