Genome editing is the practice of making predetermined and precise changes to a genome by controlling the location of DNA DSBs (double-strand breaks) and manipulating the cell's repair mechanisms. This technology results from harnessing natural processes that have taken decades and multiple lines of inquiry to understand. Through many false starts and iterative technology advances, the goal of genome editing is just now falling under the control of human hands as a routine and broadly applicable method. The present review attempts to define the technique and capture the discovery process while following its evolution from meganucleases and zinc finger nucleases to the current state of the art: TALEN (transcription-activator-like effector nuclease) technology. We also discuss factors that influence success, technical challenges and future prospects of this quickly evolving area of study and application.

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