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Title: Comprehensive deletion landscape of CRISPR-Cas9 identifies minimal RNA-guided DNA-binding modules

Proteins evolve through the modular rearrangement of elements known as domains. Extant, multidomain proteins are hypothesized to be the result of domain accretion, but there has been limited experimental validation of this idea. Here, we introduce a technique for genetic minimization byiterativesize-exclusion andrecombination (MISER) for comprehensively making all possible deletions of a protein. Using MISER, we generate a deletion landscape for the CRISPR protein Cas9. We find that the catalytically-deadStreptococcus pyogenesCas9 can tolerate large single deletions in the REC2, REC3, HNH, and RuvC domains, while still functioning in vitro and in vivo, and that these deletions can be stacked together to engineer minimal, DNA-binding effector proteins. In total, our results demonstrate that extant proteins retain significant modularity from the accretion process and, as genetic size is a major limitation for viral delivery systems, establish a general technique to improve genome editing and gene therapy-based therapeutics.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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