ABSTRACT: RNA has important and diverse roles in biology, but molecular tools to manipulate and measure it are limited. For example, RNA interference can efficiently knockdown RNAs, but it is prone to off-target effects, and visualizing RNAs typically relies on the introduction of exogenous tags. Here we demonstrate that the class 2 type VI RNA-guided RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas effector Cas13a (previously known as C2c2) can be engineered for mammalian cell RNA knockdown and binding. After initial screening of 15 orthologues, we identified Cas13a from Leptotrichia wadei (LwaCas13a) as the most effective in an interference assay in Escherichia coli. LwaCas13a can be heterologously expressed in mammalian and plant cells for targeted knockdown of either reporter or endogenous transcripts with comparable levels of knockdown as RNA interference and improved specificity. Catalytically inactive LwaCas13a maintains targeted RNA binding activity, which we leveraged for programmable tracking of transcripts in live cells. Our results establish CRISPR-Cas13a as a flexible platform for studying RNA in mammalian cells and therapeutic development.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas systems confer immunity against invading nucleic acids and phages in bacteria and archaea. CRISPR/Cas13a (known previously as C2c2) is a class 2 type VI-A ribonuclease capable of targeting and cleaving single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) molecules of the phage genome. Here, we employ CRISPR/Cas13a to engineer interference with an RNA virus, Turnip Mosaic Virus (TuMV), in plants.CRISPR/Cas13a produces interference against green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing TuMV in transient assays and stable overexpression lines of Nicotiana benthamiana. CRISPR RNA (crRNAs) targeting the HC-Pro and GFP sequences exhibit better interference than those targeting other regions such as coat protein (CP) sequence. Cas13a can also process pre-crRNAs into functional crRNAs.Our data indicate that CRISPR/Cas13a can be used for engineering interference against RNA viruses, providing a potential novel mechanism for RNA-guided immunity against RNA viruses and for other RNA manipulations in plants.
Project description:CRISPR adaptive immunity pathways protect prokaryotic cells against foreign nucleic acids using CRISPR RNA (crRNA)-guided nucleases. In type VI-A CRISPR-Cas systems, the signature protein Cas13a (formerly C2c2) contains two separate ribonuclease activities that catalyze crRNA maturation and ssRNA degradation. The Cas13a protein family occurs across different bacterial phyla and varies widely in both protein sequence and corresponding crRNA sequence conservation. Although grouped phylogenetically together, we show that the Cas13a enzyme family comprises two distinct functional groups that recognize orthogonal sets of crRNAs and possess different ssRNA cleavage specificities. These functional distinctions could not be bioinformatically predicted, suggesting more subtle co-evolution of Cas13a enzymes. Additionally, we find that Cas13a pre-crRNA processing is not essential for ssRNA cleavage, although it enhances ssRNA targeting for crRNAs encoded internally within the CRISPR array. We define two Cas13a protein subfamilies that can operate in parallel for RNA detection both in bacteria and for diagnostic applications.
Project description:Bacterial adaptive immune systems use CRISPRs (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins for RNA-guided nucleic acid cleavage. Although most prokaryotic adaptive immune systems generally target DNA substrates, type III and VI CRISPR systems direct interference complexes against single-stranded RNA substrates. In type VI systems, the single-subunit C2c2 protein functions as an RNA-guided RNA endonuclease (RNase). How this enzyme acquires mature CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) that are essential for immune surveillance and how it carries out crRNA-mediated RNA cleavage remain unclear. Here we show that bacterial C2c2 possesses a unique RNase activity responsible for CRISPR RNA maturation that is distinct from its RNA-activated single-stranded RNA degradation activity. These dual RNase functions are chemically and mechanistically different from each other and from the crRNA-processing behaviour of the evolutionarily unrelated CRISPR enzyme Cpf1 (ref. 11). The two RNase activities of C2c2 enable multiplexed processing and loading of guide RNAs that in turn allow sensitive detection of cellular transcripts.
Project description:Rapid, inexpensive, and sensitive nucleic acid detection may aid point-of-care pathogen detection, genotyping, and disease monitoring. The RNA-guided, RNA-targeting clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) effector Cas13a (previously known as C2c2) exhibits a "collateral effect" of promiscuous ribonuclease activity upon target recognition. We combine the collateral effect of Cas13a with isothermal amplification to establish a CRISPR-based diagnostic (CRISPR-Dx), providing rapid DNA or RNA detection with attomolar sensitivity and single-base mismatch specificity. We use this Cas13a-based molecular detection platform, termed Specific High-Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter UnLOCKing (SHERLOCK), to detect specific strains of Zika and Dengue virus, distinguish pathogenic bacteria, genotype human DNA, and identify mutations in cell-free tumor DNA. Furthermore, SHERLOCK reaction reagents can be lyophilized for cold-chain independence and long-term storage and be readily reconstituted on paper for field applications.
Project description:The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated genes (Cas) adaptive immune system defends microbes against foreign genetic elements via DNA or RNA-DNA interference. We characterize the class 2 type VI CRISPR-Cas effector C2c2 and demonstrate its RNA-guided ribonuclease function. C2c2 from the bacterium Leptotrichia shahii provides interference against RNA phage. In vitro biochemical analysis shows that C2c2 is guided by a single CRISPR RNA and can be programmed to cleave single-stranded RNA targets carrying complementary protospacers. In bacteria, C2c2 can be programmed to knock down specific mRNAs. Cleavage is mediated by catalytic residues in the two conserved Higher Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes Nucleotide-binding (HEPN) domains, mutations of which generate catalytically inactive RNA-binding proteins. These results broaden our understanding of CRISPR-Cas systems and suggest that C2c2 can be used to develop new RNA-targeting tools.
Project description:In the CRISPR-Cas systems, Cas13a is an RNA-guided RNA nuclease specifically targeting single strand RNA. We developed a Cas13a mediated CRISPR interference tool to target mRNA for gene silencing in mosquitoes. A Cas13a expressing plasmid was delivered to mosquitoes by intrathoracic injection, and Cas13a transcripts were detectable at least 10 days post-delivery. The target specific crRNA was synthesized in vitro using T7 RNA polymerase. The Cas13a plasmid and target crRNA can be delivered by intrathoracic injection together, or the Cas13a construct can be provided first, and then target crRNA can be given later when appropriate. The machinery was tested in two mosquito species. In Anopheles gambiae, vitellogenin gene was silenced by Cas13a/Vg-crRNA, which was accompanied by a significant reduction in egg production. In Aedes aegypti, the ?- and ?-subunits of COPI genes were silenced by Cas13a/crRNA, which resulted in mortality and fragile midguts, reproducing a phenotype reported previously. Co-silencing genes simultaneously is achievable when a cocktail of target crRNAs is given. No detectable collateral cleavages of non-target transcripts were observed in the study. In addition to dsRNA or siRNA mediated RNA interference, the programmable CRISPR interference method offers an alternative to knock down genes in mosquitoes.
Project description:RNA is rarely used as a therapeutic target due to its flexible structure and instability. CRISPR-Cas13a is a powerful tool for RNA knockdown, and the potential application of CRISPR-Cas13a in cancer cells should be further studied. In this study, overexpression of LwCas13a by lentivirus in glioma cells reveals that crRNA-EGFP induces a "collateral effect" after knocking down the target gene in EGFP-expressing cells. EGFRvIII is a unique EGFR mutant subtype in glioma, and the CRISPR-Cas13a system induces death in EGFRvIII-overexpressing glioma cells. Bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing analysis in U87-Cas13a-EGFRvIII cells confirm the collateral effect of the CRISPR-Cas13a system. Furthermore, CRISPR-Cas13a inhibits the formation of glioma intracranial tumors in mice. The results demonstrate the collateral effect of the CRISPR-Cas13a system in cancer cells and the powerful tumor-eliminating potential of this system.
Project description:The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused a global health emergency, and its gene mutation and evolution further posed uncertainty of epidemic risk. Herein, we reported a light-up CRISPR-Cas13 transcription amplification method, which enables the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and its mutated variants. Sequence specificity was ensured by both the ligation process and Cas13a/crRNA recognition, allowing us to identify viral RNA mutation. Light-up RNA aptamer allows sensitive output of amplification signals via target-activated ribonuclease activity of CRISPR-Cas13a. The RNA virus assay has been designed to detect coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and SARS, as well as the influenza viruses such as, H1N1, H7N9, and H9N2. It was accommodated to sense as low as 82 copies of SARS-CoV-2. Particularly, it allowed us to strictly discriminate key mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 variant, D614G, which may induce higher epidemic and pathogenetic risk. The proposed RNA virus assays are promising for point-of-care monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 and its risking variants.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas9 system has been applied to DNA editing with precision in eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems, but it is unable to edit RNA directly. A recently developed CRISPR-Cas13a system has been shown to be capable of effectively knocking down RNA expression in mammalian and plant cells. In this study, we employ the CRISPR-Cas13a system to achieve reprogrammable inactivation of dengue virus in mammalian cells. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR), fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), and plaque assays showed that CRISPR RNA (crRNA) targeting the NS3 region led to the greatest viral inhibition among 10 crRNAs targeting different regions along the dengue viral genomic RNA. Deletions and insertions had also been found adjacent to the NS3 region after NS3-crRNA/Cas13a complex transfection. Our results demonstrate that the CRISPR-Cas13a system is a novel and effective technology to inhibit dengue viral replication, suggesting that such a programmable method may be further developed into a novel therapeutic strategy for dengue and other RNA viruses.
Project description:Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas13a, previously known as CRISPR-C2c2, is the most recently identified RNA-guided RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas system that has the unique characteristics of both targeted and collateral single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) cleavage activities. This system was first identified in Leptotrichia shahii. Here, the complete whole genome sequences of 11 Leptotrichia strains were determined and compared with 18 publicly available Leptotrichia genomes in regard to the composition, occurrence and diversity of the CRISPR-Cas13a, and other CRISPR-Cas systems. Various types of CRISPR-Cas systems were found to be unevenly distributed among the Leptotrichia genomes, including types I-B (10/29, 34.4%), II-C (1/29, 2.6%), III-A (6/29, 15.4%), III-D (6/29, 15.4%), III-like (3/29, 7.7%), and VI-A (11/29, 37.9%), while 8 strains (20.5%) had no CRISPR-Cas system at all. The Cas13a effectors were found to be highly divergent with amino acid sequence similarities ranging from 61% to 90% to that of L. shahii, but their collateral ssRNA cleavage activities leading to impediment of bacterial growth were conserved. CRISPR-Cas spacers represent a sequential achievement of former intruder encounters, and the retained spacers reflect the evolutionary phylogeny or relatedness of strains. Analysis of spacer contents and numbers among Leptotrichia species showed considerable diversity with only 4.4% of spacers (40/889) were shared by two strains. The organization and distribution of CRISPR-Cas systems (type I-VI) encoded by all registered Leptotrichia species revealed that effector or spacer sequences of the CRISPR-Cas systems were very divergent, and the prevalence of types I, III, and VI was almost equal. There was only one strain carrying type II, while none carried type IV or V. These results provide new insights into the characteristics and divergences of CRISPR-Cas systems among Leptotrichia species.