skip to main content

Title: Very fast CRISPR on demand
CRISPR-Cas systems provide versatile tools for programmable genome editing. Here, we developed a caged RNA strategy that allows Cas9 to bind DNA but not cleave until light-induced activation. This approach, referred to as very fast CRISPR (vfCRISPR), creates double-strand breaks (DSBs) at the submicrometer and second scales. Synchronized cleavage improved kinetic analysis of DNA repair, revealing that cells respond to Cas9-induced DSBs within minutes and can retain MRE11 after DNA ligation. Phosphorylation of H2AX after DNA damage propagated more than 100 kilobases per minute, reaching up to 30 megabases. Using single-cell fluorescence imaging, we characterized multiple cycles of 53BP1 repair foci formation and dissolution, with the first cycle taking longer than subsequent cycles and its duration modulated by inhibition of repair. Imaging-guided subcellular Cas9 activation further facilitated genomic manipulation with single-allele resolution. vfCRISPR enables DNA-repair studies at high resolution in space, time, and genomic coordinates.
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1430124 1933303 1817447
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10170277
Journal Name:
Science
Volume:
368
Issue:
6496
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1265 to 1269
ISSN:
0036-8075
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Here we present an approach that combines a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) system that simultaneously targets hundreds of epigenetically diverse endogenous genomic sites with high-throughput sequencing to measure Cas9 dynamics and cellular responses at scale. This massive multiplexing of CRISPR is enabled by means of multi-target guide RNAs (mgRNAs), degenerate guide RNAs that direct Cas9 to a pre-determined number of well-mapped sites. mgRNAs uncovered generalizable insights into Cas9 binding and cleavage, revealing rapid post-cleavage Cas9 departure and repair factor loading at protospacer adjacent motif-proximal genomic DNA. Moreover, by bypassing confounding effects from guide RNA sequence, mgRNAs unveiled that Cas9 binding is enhanced at chromatin-accessible regions, and cleavage by bound Cas9 is more efficient near transcribed regions. Combined with light-mediated activation and deactivation of Cas9 activity, mgRNAs further enabled high-throughput study of the cellular response to double-strand breaks with high temporal resolution, revealing the presence, extent (under 2 kb) and kinetics (~1 h) of reversible DNA damage-induced chromatin decompaction. Altogether, this work establishes mgRNAs as a generalizable platform for multiplexing CRISPR and advances our understanding of intracellular Cas9 activity and the DNA damage response at endogenous loci.

  2. Hatfull, Graham F. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bacteria and bacteriophages (phages) have evolved potent defense and counterdefense mechanisms that allowed their survival and greatest abundance on Earth. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) is a bacterial defense system that inactivates the invading phage genome by introducing double-strand breaks at targeted sequences. While the mechanisms of CRISPR defense have been extensively investigated, the counterdefense mechanisms employed by phages are poorly understood. Here, we report a novel counterdefense mechanism by which phage T4 restores the genomes broken by CRISPR cleavages. Catalyzed by the phage-encoded recombinase UvsX, this mechanism pairs very short stretches of sequence identity (minihomology sites), as few as 3 or 4 nucleotides in the flanking regions of the cleaved site, allowing replication, repair, and stitching of genomic fragments. Consequently, a series of deletions are created at the targeted site, making the progeny genomes completely resistant to CRISPR attack. Our results demonstrate that this is a general mechanism operating against both type II (Cas9) and type V (Cas12a) CRISPR-Cas systems. These studies uncovered a new type of counterdefense mechanism evolved by T4 phage where subtle functional tuning of preexisting DNA metabolism leads to profound impact on phage survival. IMPORTANCE Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that infectmore »bacteria and use them as replication factories to assemble progeny phages. Bacteria have evolved powerful defense mechanisms to destroy the invading phages by severing their genomes soon after entry into cells. We discovered a counterdefense mechanism evolved by phage T4 to stitch back the broken genomes and restore viral infection. In this process, a small amount of genetic material is deleted or another mutation is introduced, making the phage resistant to future bacterial attack. The mutant virus might also gain survival advantages against other restriction conditions or DNA damaging events. Thus, bacterial attack not only triggers counterdefenses but also provides opportunities to generate more fit phages. Such defense and counterdefense mechanisms over the millennia led to the extraordinary diversity and the greatest abundance of bacteriophages on Earth. Understanding these mechanisms will open new avenues for engineering recombinant phages for biomedical applications.« less
  3. Abstract

    CRISPR-Cas12a is an RNA-guided, programmable genome editing enzyme found within bacterial adaptive immune pathways. Unlike CRISPR-Cas9, Cas12a uses only a single catalytic site to both cleave target double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) (cis-activity) and indiscriminately degrade single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (trans-activity). To investigate how the relative potency of cis- versus trans-DNase activity affects Cas12a-mediated genome editing, we first used structure-guided engineering to generate variants of Lachnospiraceae bacterium Cas12a that selectively disrupt trans-activity. The resulting engineered mutant with the biggest differential between cis- and trans-DNase activity in vitro showed minimal genome editing activity in human cells, motivating a second set of experiments using directed evolution to generate additional mutants with robust genome editing activity. Notably, these engineered and evolved mutants had enhanced ability to induce homology-directed repair (HDR) editing by 2–18-fold compared to wild-type Cas12a when using HDR donors containing mismatches with crRNA at the PAM-distal region. Finally, a site-specific reversion mutation produced improved Cas12a (iCas12a) variants with superior genome editing efficiency at genomic sites that are difficult to edit using wild-type Cas12a. This strategy establishes a pipeline for creating improved genome editing tools by combining structural insights with randomization and selection. The available structures of other CRISPR-Cas enzymes will enable this strategymore »to be applied to improve the efficacy of other genome-editing proteins.

    « less
  4. We report the development of post-transcriptional chemical methods that enable control over CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing activity both in in vitro assays and in living cells. We show that an azide-substituted acyl imidazole reagent (NAI-N 3 ) efficiently acylates CRISPR single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) in 20 minutes in buffer. Poly-acylated (“cloaked”) sgRNA was completely inactive in DNA cleavage with Cas9 in vitro , and activity was quantitatively restored after phosphine treatment. Delivery of cloaked sgRNA and Cas9 mRNA into HeLa cells was enabled by the use of charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs), which outperformed commercial transfection reagents in transfecting sgRNA co-complexed with Cas9 encoding functional mRNA. Genomic DNA cleavage in the cells by CRISPR–Cas9 was efficiently restored after treatment with phosphine to remove the blocking acyl groups. Our results highlight the utility of reversible RNA acylation as a novel method for temporal control of genome-editing function.
  5. Abstract Gene editing is a powerful tool for genome and cell engineering. Exemplified by CRISPR–Cas, gene editing could cause DNA damage and trigger DNA repair processes that are often error-prone. Such unwanted mutations and safety concerns can be exacerbated when altering long sequences. Here we couple microbial single-strand annealing proteins (SSAPs) with catalytically inactive dCas9 for gene editing. This cleavage-free gene editor, dCas9–SSAP, promotes the knock-in of long sequences in mammalian cells. The dCas9–SSAP editor has low on-target errors and minimal off-target effects, showing higher accuracy than canonical Cas9 methods. It is effective for inserting kilobase-scale sequences, with an efficiency of up to approximately 20% and robust performance across donor designs and cell types, including human stem cells. We show that dCas9–SSAP is less sensitive to inhibition of DNA repair enzymes than Cas9 references. We further performed truncation and aptamer engineering to minimize its size to fit into a single adeno-associated-virus vector for future application. Together, this tool opens opportunities towards safer long-sequence genome engineering.