CRISPR-Cas9 Mediated DNA Unwinding Detected Using Site-Directed Spin Labeling.
ABSTRACT: The RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease has revolutionized genome engineering, yet its mechanism for DNA target selection is not fully understood. A crucial step in Cas9 target recognition involves unwinding of the DNA duplex to form a three-stranded R-loop structure. Work reported here demonstrates direct detection of Cas9-mediated DNA unwinding by a combination of site-directed spin labeling and molecular dynamics simulations. The results support a model in which the unwound nontarget strand is stabilized by a positively charged patch located between the two nuclease domains of Cas9 and reveal uneven increases in flexibility along the unwound nontarget strand upon scissions of the DNA backbone. This work establishes the synergistic combination of spin-labeling and molecular dynamics to directly monitor Cas9-mediated DNA conformational changes and yields information on the target DNA in different stages of Cas9 function, thus advancing mechanistic understanding of CRISPR-Cas9 and aiding future technological development.
Project description:In a type II clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) system, RNAs that are encoded at the CRISPR locus complex with the CRISPR-associated (Cas) protein Cas9 to form an RNA-guided nuclease that cleaves double-stranded DNAs at specific sites. In recent years, the CRISPR-Cas9 system has been successfully adapted for genome engineering in a wide range of organisms. Studies have indicated that a series of conformational changes in Cas9, coordinated by the RNA and the target DNA, direct the protein into its active conformation, yet details on these conformational changes, as well as their roles in the mechanism of function of Cas9, remain to be elucidated. Here, nucleic acid-dependent conformational changes in Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpyCas9) were investigated using the method of site-directed spin labeling (SDSL). Single nitroxide spin labels were attached, one at a time, at one of the two native cysteine residues (Cys80 and Cys574) of SpyCas9, and the spin-labeled proteins were shown to maintain their function. X-band continuous-wave electron paramagnetic resonance spectra of the nitroxide attached at Cys80 revealed conformational changes of SpyCas9 that are consistent with a large-scale domain re-arrangement upon binding to its RNA partner. The results demonstrate the use of SDSL to monitor conformational changes in CRISPR-Cas9, which will provide key information for understanding the mechanism of CRISPR function.
Project description:Mycobacterial AdnAB is a heterodimeric DNA helicase-nuclease and 3' to 5' DNA translocase implicated in the repair of double strand breaks (DSBs). The AdnA and AdnB subunits are each composed of an N-terminal motor domain and a C-terminal nuclease domain. Inclusion of mycobacterial single strand DNA-binding protein (SSB) in reactions containing linear plasmid dsDNA allowed us to study the AdnAB helicase under conditions in which the unwound single strands are coated by SSB and thereby prevented from reannealing or promoting ongoing ATP hydrolysis. We found that the AdnAB motor catalyzed processive unwinding of 2.7-11.2-kbp linear duplex DNAs at a rate of ?250 bp s(-1), while hydrolyzing ?5 ATPs per bp unwound. Crippling the AdnA phosphohydrolase active site did not affect the rate of unwinding but lowered energy consumption slightly, to ?4.2 ATPs bp(-1). Mutation of the AdnB phosphohydrolase abolished duplex unwinding, consistent with a model in which the "leading" AdnB motor propagates a Y-fork by translocation along the 3' DNA strand, ahead of the "lagging" AdnA motor domain. By tracking the resection of the 5' and 3' strands at the DSB ends, we illuminated a division of labor among the AdnA and AdnB nuclease modules during dsDNA unwinding, whereby the AdnA nuclease processes the unwound 5' strand to liberate a short oligonucleotide product, and the AdnB nuclease incises the 3' strand on which the motor translocates. These results extend our understanding of presynaptic DSB processing by AdnAB and engender instructive comparisons with the RecBCD and AddAB clades of bacterial helicase-nuclease machines.
Project description:Cas9 (from Streptococcus pyogenes) in complex with a guide RNA targets complementary DNA for cleavage. Here, we developed a single-molecule FRET analysis to study the mechanisms of specificity enhancement of two engineered Cas9s (eCas9 and Cas9-HF1). A DNA-unwinding assay showed that mismatches affect cleavage reactions through rebalancing the unwinding-rewinding equilibrium. Increasing PAM-distal mismatches facilitates rewinding, and the associated cleavage impairment shows that cleavage proceeds from the unwound state. Engineered Cas9s depopulate the unwound state more readily with mismatches. The intrinsic cleavage rate is much lower for engineered Cas9s, preventing cleavage from transiently unwound off-targets. Engineered Cas9s require approximately one additional base pair match for stable binding, freeing them from sites that would otherwise sequester them. Therefore, engineered Cas9s achieve their improved specificity by inhibiting stable DNA binding to partially matching sequences, making DNA unwinding more sensitive to mismatches and slowing down the intrinsic cleavage reaction.
Project description:Bacterial adaptive immunity and genome engineering involving the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-associated (Cas) protein Cas9 begin with RNA-guided DNA unwinding to form an RNA-DNA hybrid and a displaced DNA strand inside the protein. The role of this R-loop structure in positioning each DNA strand for cleavage by the two Cas9 nuclease domains is unknown. We determine molecular structures of the catalytically active Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 R-loop that show the displaced DNA strand located near the RuvC nuclease domain active site. These protein-DNA interactions, in turn, position the HNH nuclease domain adjacent to the target DNA strand cleavage site in a conformation essential for concerted DNA cutting. Cas9 bends the DNA helix by 30°, providing the structural distortion needed for R-loop formation.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas12a, an RNA-guided DNA targeting endonuclease, has been widely used for genome editing and nucleic acid detection. As part of the essential processes for both of these applications, the two strands of double-stranded DNA are sequentially cleaved by a single catalytic site of Cas12a, but the mechanistic details that govern the generation of complete breaks in double-stranded DNA remain to be elucidated. Here, using single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer assay, we identified two conformational intermediates that form consecutively following the initial cleavage of the nontarget strand. Specifically, these two intermediates are the result of further unwinding of the target DNA in the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM)-distal region and the subsequent binding of the target strand to the catalytic site. Notably, the PAM-distal DNA unwound conformation was stabilized by Mg<sup>2+</sup> ions, thereby significantly promoting the binding and cleavage of the target strand. These findings enabled us to propose a Mg<sup>2+</sup>-dependent kinetic model for the mechanism whereby Cas12a achieves cleavage of the target DNA, highlighting the presence of conformational rearrangements for the complete cleavage of the double-stranded DNA target.
Project description:We here describe a technique termed STRIDE (SensiTive Recognition of Individual DNA Ends), which enables highly sensitive, specific, direct in situ detection of single- or double-strand DNA breaks (sSTRIDE or dSTRIDE), in nuclei of single cells, using fluorescence microscopy. The sensitivity of STRIDE was tested using a specially developed CRISPR/Cas9 DNA damage induction system, capable of inducing small clusters or individual single- or double-strand breaks. STRIDE exhibits significantly higher sensitivity and specificity of detection of DNA breaks than the commonly used terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling assay or methods based on monitoring of recruitment of repair proteins or histone modifications at the damage site (e.g. ?H2AX). Even individual genome site-specific DNA double-strand cuts induced by CRISPR/Cas9, as well as individual single-strand DNA scissions induced by the nickase version of Cas9, can be detected by STRIDE and precisely localized within the cell nucleus. We further show that STRIDE can detect low-level spontaneous DNA damage, including age-related DNA lesions, DNA breaks induced by several agents (bleomycin, doxorubicin, topotecan, hydrogen peroxide, UV, photosensitized reactions) and fragmentation of DNA in human spermatozoa. The STRIDE methods are potentially useful in studies of mechanisms of DNA damage induction and repair in cell lines and primary cultures, including cells with impaired repair mechanisms.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease has been widely repurposed as a molecular and cell biology tool for its ability to programmably target and cleave DNA. Cas9 recognizes its target site by unwinding the DNA double helix and hybridizing a 20-nucleotide section of its associated guide RNA to one DNA strand, forming an R-loop structure. A dynamic and mechanical description of R-loop formation is needed to understand the biophysics of target searching and develop rational approaches for mitigating off-target activity while accounting for the influence of torsional strain in the genome. Here we investigate the dynamics of Cas9 R-loop formation and collapse using rotor bead tracking (RBT), a single-molecule technique that can simultaneously monitor DNA unwinding with base-pair resolution and binding of fluorescently labeled macromolecules in real time. By measuring changes in torque upon unwinding of the double helix, we find that R-loop formation and collapse proceed via a transient discrete intermediate, consistent with DNA:RNA hybridization within an initial seed region. Using systematic measurements of target and off-target sequences under controlled mechanical perturbations, we characterize position-dependent effects of sequence mismatches and show how DNA supercoiling modulates the energy landscape of R-loop formation and dictates access to states competent for stable binding and cleavage. Consistent with this energy landscape model, in bulk experiments we observe promiscuous cleavage under physiological negative supercoiling. The detailed description of DNA interrogation presented here suggests strategies for improving the specificity and kinetics of Cas9 as a genome engineering tool and may inspire expanded applications that exploit sensitivity to DNA supercoiling.
Project description:DNA unwinding of autonomously replicating sequence 1 (ARS1) from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was investigated. When a negatively supercoiled plasmid DNA containing ARS1 was digested with single-strand-specific mung bean nuclease, a discrete region in the vector DNA was preferentially digested. The regions containing the core consensus A domain and the 3'-flanking B domain of ARS1 were weakly digested. When the DNA was incubated with the multisubunit single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSB, also called RPA [replication protein A]) from human and yeast cells prior to mung bean nuclease digestion, the cleavage in the A and B domains was greatly increased. Furthermore, a region corresponding to the 5'-flanking C domain of ARS1 was digested. These results indicate that three domains of ARS1, each of which is important for replication in yeast cells, closely correspond to the regions where the DNA duplex is easily unwound by torsional stress. SSB may stimulate the unwinding of the ARS1 region by its preferential binding to the destabilized three domains. Mung bean nuclease digestion of the substitution mutants with mutations of ARS1 (Y. Marahrens and B. Stillman, Science 255:817-823, 1992) revealed that the sequences in the B2 and A elements are responsible for the unwinding of the B domain and the region containing the A domain, respectively.
Project description:Direct visualization of genomic loci in the 3D nucleus is important for understanding the spatial organization of the genome and its association with gene expression. Various DNA FISH methods have been developed in the past decades, all involving denaturing dsDNA and hybridizing fluorescent nucleic acid probes. Here we report a novel approach that uses in vitro constituted nuclease-deficient clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated caspase 9 (Cas9) complexes as probes to label sequence-specific genomic loci fluorescently without global DNA denaturation (Cas9-mediated fluorescence in situ hybridization, CASFISH). Using fluorescently labeled nuclease-deficient Cas9 (dCas9) protein assembled with various single-guide RNA (sgRNA), we demonstrated rapid and robust labeling of repetitive DNA elements in pericentromere, centromere, G-rich telomere, and coding gene loci. Assembling dCas9 with an array of sgRNAs tiling arbitrary target loci, we were able to visualize nonrepetitive genomic sequences. The dCas9/sgRNA binary complex is stable and binds its target DNA with high affinity, allowing sequential or simultaneous probing of multiple targets. CASFISH assays using differently colored dCas9/sgRNA complexes allow multicolor labeling of target loci in cells. In addition, the CASFISH assay is remarkably rapid under optimal conditions and is applicable for detection in primary tissue sections. This rapid, robust, less disruptive, and cost-effective technology adds a valuable tool for basic research and genetic diagnosis.
Project description:In bacterial cells, processing of double-stranded DNA breaks for repair by homologous recombination is catalysed by AddAB, AdnAB or RecBCD-type helicase-nucleases. These enzyme complexes are highly processive, duplex unwinding and degrading machines that require tight regulation. Here, we report the structure of E.coli RecBCD, determined by cryoEM at 3.8 Å resolution, with a DNA substrate that reveals how the nuclease activity of the complex is activated once unwinding progresses. Extension of the 5'-tail of the unwound duplex induces a large conformational change in the RecD subunit, that is transferred through the RecC subunit to activate the nuclease domain of the RecB subunit. The process involves a SH3 domain that binds to a region of the RecB subunit in a binding mode that is distinct from others observed previously in SH3 domains and, to our knowledge, this is the first example of peptide-binding of an SH3 domain in a bacterial system.