Optimized tuning of TALEN specificity using non-conventional RVDs.
ABSTRACT: A key feature when designing DNA targeting tools and especially nucleases is specificity. The ability to control and tune this important parameter represents an invaluable advance to the development of such molecular scissors. Here, we identified and characterized new non-conventional RVDs (ncRVDs) that possess novel intrinsic targeting specificity features. We further report a strategy to control TALEN targeting based on the exclusion capacities of ncRVDs (discrimination between different nucleotides). By implementing such ncRVDs, we demonstrated in living cells the possibility to efficiently promote TALEN-mediated processing of a target in the HBB locus and alleviate undesired off-site cleavage. We anticipate that this method can greatly benefit to designer nucleases, especially for therapeutic applications and synthetic biology.
Project description:A key issue when designing and using DNA-targeting nucleases is specificity. Ideally, an optimal DNA-targeting tool has only one recognition site within a genomic sequence. In practice, however, almost all designer nucleases available today can accommodate one to several mutations within their target site. The ability to predict the specificity of targeting is thus highly desirable. Here, we describe the first comprehensive experimental study focused on the specificity of the four commonly used repeat variable diresidues (RVDs; NI:A, HD:C, NN:G and NG:T) incorporated in transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN). The analysis of >15 500 unique TALEN/DNA cleavage profiles allowed us to monitor the specificity gradient of the RVDs along a TALEN/DNA binding array and to present a specificity scoring matrix for RVD/nucleotide association. Furthermore, we report that TALEN can only accommodate a relatively small number of position-dependent mismatches while maintaining a detectable activity at endogenous loci in vivo, demonstrating the high specificity of these molecular tools. We thus envision that the results we provide will allow for more deliberate choices of DNA binding arrays and/or DNA targets, extending our engineering capabilities.
Project description:Using a TALEN-mediated gene-editing approach, we have previously described a process for the large-scale manufacturing of "off-the-shelf" CAR T cells from third-party donor T cells by disrupting the gene encoding TCR? constant chain (TRAC). Taking advantage of a previously described strategy to control TALEN targeting based on the exclusion capacities of non-conventional RVDs, we have developed highly efficient and specific nucleases targeting a key T cell immune checkpoint, PD-1, to improve engineered CAR T cells' functionalities. Here, we demonstrate that this approach allows combined TRAC and PDCD1 TALEN processing at the desired locus while eliminating low-frequency off-site processing. Thus, by replacing few RVDs, we provide here an easy and rapid redesign of optimal TALEN combinations. We anticipate that this method can greatly benefit multiplex editing, which is of key importance especially for therapeutic applications where high editing efficiencies need to be associated with maximal specificity and safety.
Project description:Designer nucleases have been successfully employed to modify the genomes of various model organisms and human cell types. While the specificity of zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) and RNA-guided endonucleases has been assessed to some extent, little data are available for transcription activator-like effector-based nucleases (TALENs). Here, we have engineered TALEN pairs targeting three human loci (CCR5, AAVS1 and IL2RG) and performed a detailed analysis of their activity, toxicity and specificity. The TALENs showed comparable activity to benchmark ZFNs, with allelic gene disruption frequencies of 15-30% in human cells. Notably, TALEN expression was overall marked by a low cytotoxicity and the absence of cell cycle aberrations. Bioinformatics-based analysis of designer nuclease specificity confirmed partly substantial off-target activity of ZFNs targeting CCR5 and AAVS1 at six known and five novel sites, respectively. In contrast, only marginal off-target cleavage activity was detected at four out of 49 predicted off-target sites for CCR5- and AAVS1-specific TALENs. The rational design of a CCR5-specific TALEN pair decreased off-target activity at the closely related CCR2 locus considerably, consistent with fewer genomic rearrangements between the two loci. In conclusion, our results link nuclease-associated toxicity to off-target cleavage activity and corroborate TALENs as a highly specific platform for future clinical translation.
Project description:Targeted genome engineering to robustly express transgenes is an essential methodology for stem cell-based research and therapy. Although designer nucleases have been used to drastically enhance gene editing efficiency, targeted addition and stable expression of transgenes to date is limited at single gene/locus and mostly PPP1R12C/AAVS1 in human stem cells. Here we constructed transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) targeting the safe-harbor like gene CLYBL to mediate reporter gene integration at 38%-58% efficiency, and used both AAVS1-TALENs and CLYBL-TALENs to simultaneously knock-in multiple reporter genes at dual safe-harbor loci in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and neural stem cells (NSCs). The CLYBL-TALEN engineered cell lines maintained robust reporter expression during self-renewal and differentiation, and revealed that CLYBL targeting resulted in stronger transgene expression and less perturbation on local gene expression than PPP1R12C/AAVS1. TALEN-mediated CLYBL engineering provides improved transgene expression and options for multiple genetic modification in human stem cells.
Project description:Our ability to precisely and efficiently edit mammalian and plant genomes has been significantly improved in recent years, partially due to increasing use of designer nucleases that recognize a pre-determined DNA sequence, make a specific DNA double-strand break, and stimulate gene targeting. A pair of zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) or transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) that recognize two adjacent unique DNA sequences dimerize through the fused FokI nuclease domain and cut in the middle of target DNA sequences. We report here that increasing the length of recognition DNA sequences by TALENs or ZFNs does not necessarily translate to a higher efficiency or specificity. We also discover that one subunit of ZFNs and one subunit of TALENs can form a pair of hybrid nucleases with expanded specificity at two diverse targets, and stimulate gene targeting in multiple cell types including human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells with improved efficiency.
Project description:Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALEN) are potential tools for precise genome engineering of laboratory animals. We report the first targeted genomic integration in the rat using TALENs (Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases) by homology-derived recombination (HDR). We assembled TALENs and designed a linear donor insert targeting a pA476T mutation in the rat Glucocorticoid Receptor (Nr3c1) namely GR(dim), that prevents receptor homodimerization in the mouse. TALEN mRNA and linear double-stranded donor were microinjected into rat one-cell embryos. Overall, we observed targeted genomic modifications in 17% of the offspring, indicating high TALEN cutting efficiency in rat zygotes.
Project description:Use of transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) is a promising new technique in the field of targeted genome engineering, editing and reverse genetics. Its applications span from introducing knockout mutations to endogenous tagging of proteins and targeted excision repair. Owing to this wide range of possible applications, there is a need for fast and user-friendly TALEN design tools. We developed E-TALEN (http://www.e-talen.org), a web-based tool to design TALENs for experiments of varying scale. E-TALEN enables the design of TALENs against a single target or a large number of target genes. We significantly extended previously published design concepts to consider genomic context and different applications. E-TALEN guides the user through an end-to-end design process of de novo TALEN pairs, which are specific to a certain sequence or genomic locus. Furthermore, E-TALEN offers a functionality to predict targeting and specificity for existing TALENs. Owing to the computational complexity of many of the steps in the design of TALENs, particular emphasis has been put on the implementation of fast yet accurate algorithms. We implemented a user-friendly interface, from the input parameters to the presentation of results. An additional feature of E-TALEN is the in-built sequence and annotation database available for many organisms, including human, mouse, zebrafish, Drosophila and Arabidopsis, which can be extended in the future.
Project description:The DNA binding domain of Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) effectors can easily be engineered to have new DNA sequence specificities. Consequently, engineered TAL effector proteins have become important reagents for manipulating genomes in vivo. DNA binding by TAL effectors is mediated by arrays of 34 amino acid repeats. In each repeat, one of two amino acids (repeat variable di-residues, RVDs) contacts a base in the DNA target. RVDs with specificity for C, T and A have been described; however, among RVDs that target G, the RVD NN also binds A, and NK is rare among naturally occurring TAL effectors. Here we show that TAL effector nucleases (TALENs) made with NK to specify G have less activity than their NN-containing counterparts: fourteen of fifteen TALEN pairs made with NN showed more activity in a yeast recombination assay than otherwise identical TALENs made with NK. Activity was assayed for three of these TALEN pairs in human cells, and the results paralleled the yeast data. The in vivo data is explained by in vitro measurements of binding affinity demonstrating that NK-containing TAL effectors have less affinity for targets with G than their NN-containing counterparts. On targets for which G was substituted with A, higher G-specificity was observed for NK-containing TALENs. TALENs with different N- and C-terminal truncations were also tested on targets that differed in the length of the spacer between the two TALEN binding sites. TALENs with C-termini of either 63 or 231 amino acids after the repeat array cleaved targets across a broad range of spacer lengths - from 14 to 33 bp. TALENs with only 18 aa after the repeat array, however, showed a clear optimum for spacers of 13 to 16 bp. The data presented here provide useful guidelines for increasing the specificity and activity of engineered TAL effector proteins.
Project description:?-Lactoglobulin (BLG) is a major goat's milk allergen that is absent in human milk. Engineered endonucleases, including transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and zinc-finger nucleases, enable targeted genetic modification in livestock. In this study, TALEN-mediated gene knockout followed by gene knock-in were used to generate BLG knockout goats as mammary gland bioreactors for large-scale production of human lactoferrin (hLF). We introduced precise genetic modifications in the goat genome at frequencies of approximately 13.6% and 6.09% for the first and second sequential targeting, respectively, by using targeting vectors that underwent TALEN-induced homologous recombination (HR). Analysis of milk from the cloned goats revealed large-scale hLF expression or/and decreased BLG levels in milk from heterozygous goats as well as the absence of BLG in milk from homozygous goats. Furthermore, the TALEN-mediated targeting events in somatic cells can be transmitted through the germline after SCNT. Our result suggests that gene targeting via TALEN-induced HR may expedite the production of genetically engineered livestock for agriculture and biomedicine.
Project description:Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) are one of several types of programmable, engineered nucleases that bind and cleave specific DNA sequences. Cellular machinery repairs the cleaved DNA by introducing indels. In this review, we emphasize the potential, explore progress, and identify challenges in using TALENs as a therapeutic tool to treat HIV infection. TALENs have less off-target editing and can be more effective at tolerating HIV escape mutations than CRISPR/Cas-9. Scientists have explored TALEN-mediated editing of host genes such as viral entry receptors (CCR5 and CXCR4) and a protein involved in proviral integration (LEDGF/p75). Viral targets include the proviral DNA, particularly focused on the long terminal repeats. Major challenges with translating gene therapy from bench to bedside are improving cleavage efficiency and delivery, while minimizing off-target editing, cytotoxicity, and immunogenicity. However, rapid improvements in TALEN technology are enhancing cleavage efficiency and specificity. Therapeutic testing in animal models of HIV infection will help determine whether TALENs are a viable HIV treatment therapy. TALENs or other engineered nucleases could shift the therapeutic paradigm from life-long antiretroviral therapy toward eradication of HIV infection.