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 strategy more »
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Nucleic Acids Research
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- p. 12689-12701
- Oxford University Press
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Canonical CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique has profoundly impacted the fields of plant biology, biotechnology, and crop improvement. Since non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) is usually considered to generate random indels, its high efficiency mutation is generally not pertinent to precise editing. Homology-directed repair (HDR) can mediate precise editing with supplied donor DNA, but it suffers from extreme low efficiency in higher plants. Therefore, precision editing in plants will be facilitated by the ability to predict NHEJ repair outcome and to improve HDR efficiency. Here, we report that NHEJ-mediated single nucleotide insertion at different rice genes is predictable based on DNA sequences at the target loci. Three mutation prediction tools (inDelphi, FORECasT, and SPROUT) have been validated in the rice plant system. We also evaluated the chimeric guide RNA (cgRNA) and Cas9-Retron precISe Parallel Editing via homologY (CRISPEY) strategies to facilitate donor template supply for improving HDR efficiency in Nicotiana benthamiana and rice. However, neither cgRNA nor CRISPEY improved plant HDR editing efficiency in this study. Interestingly, our data indicate that tethering of 200–250 nucleotides long sequence to either 5′ or 3′ ends of guide RNA did not significantly affect Cas9 cleavage activity.
The RNA programmed non-specific (trans) nuclease activity of CRISPR-Cas Type V and VI systems has opened a new era in the field of nucleic acid-based detection. Here, we report on the enhancement of trans-cleavage activity of Cas12a enzymes using hairpin DNA sequences as FRET-based reporters. We discover faster rate of trans-cleavage activity of Cas12a due to its improved affinity (Km) for hairpin DNA structures, and provide mechanistic insights of our findings through Molecular Dynamics simulations. Using hairpin DNA probes we significantly enhance FRET-based signal transduction compared to the widely used linear single stranded DNA reporters. Our signal transduction enables faster detection of clinically relevant double stranded DNA targets with improved sensitivity and specificity either in the presence or in the absence of an upstream pre-amplification step.
Expanding the scope of plant genome engineering with Cas12a orthologs and highly multiplexable editing systemsAbstract CRISPR-Cas12a is a promising genome editing system for targeting AT-rich genomic regions. Comprehensive genome engineering requires simultaneous targeting of multiple genes at defined locations. Here, to expand the targeting scope of Cas12a, we screen nine Cas12a orthologs that have not been demonstrated in plants, and identify six, ErCas12a, Lb5Cas12a, BsCas12a, Mb2Cas12a, TsCas12a and MbCas12a, that possess high editing activity in rice. Among them, Mb2Cas12a stands out with high editing efficiency and tolerance to low temperature. An engineered Mb2Cas12a-RVRR variant enables editing with more relaxed PAM requirements in rice, yielding two times higher genome coverage than the wild type SpCas9. To enable large-scale genome engineering, we compare 12 multiplexed Cas12a systems and identify a potent system that exhibits nearly 100% biallelic editing efficiency with the ability to target as many as 16 sites in rice. This is the highest level of multiplex edits in plants to date using Cas12a. Two compact single transcript unit CRISPR-Cas12a interference systems are also developed for multi-gene repression in rice and Arabidopsis . This study greatly expands the targeting scope of Cas12a for crop genome engineering.
Targeting double-strand break indel byproducts with secondary guide RNAs improves Cas9 HDR-mediated genome editing efficiencies
Programmable double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) can be harnessed for precision genome editing through manipulation of the homology-directed repair (HDR) pathway. However, end-joining repair pathways often outcompete HDR and introduce insertions and deletions of bases (indels) at the DSB site, decreasing precision outcomes. It has been shown that indel sequences for a given DSB site are reproducible and can even be predicted. Here, we report a general strategy (the “double tap” method) to improve HDR-mediated precision genome editing efficiencies that takes advantage of the reproducible nature of indel sequences. The method simply involves the use of multiple gRNAs: a primary gRNA that targets the wild-type genomic sequence, and one or more secondary gRNAs that target the most common indel sequence(s), which in effect provides a “second chance” at HDR-mediated editing. This proof-of-principle study presents the double tap method as a simple yet effective option for enhancing precision editing in mammalian cells.
CRISPR-Cas systems are found widely in prokaryotes, where they provide adaptive immunity against virus infection and plasmid transformation. We describe a minimal functional CRISPR-Cas system, comprising a single ~70-kilodalton protein, CasΦ, and a CRISPR array, encoded exclusively in the genomes of huge bacteriophages. CasΦ uses a single active site for both CRISPR RNA (crRNA) processing and crRNA-guided DNA cutting to target foreign nucleic acids. This hypercompact system is active in vitro and in human and plant cells with expanded target recognition capabilities relative to other CRISPR-Cas proteins. Useful for genome editing and DNA detection but with a molecular weight half that of Cas9 and Cas12a genome-editing enzymes, CasΦ offers advantages for cellular delivery that expand the genome editing toolbox.