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Novel gRNA design pipeline to develop broad-spectrum CRISPR/Cas9 gRNAs for safe targeting of the HIV-1 quasispecies in patients.


ABSTRACT: The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been proposed as a cure strategy for HIV. However, few published guide RNAs (gRNAs) are predicted to cleave the majority of HIV-1 viral quasispecies (vQS) observed within and among patients. We report the design of a novel pipeline to identify gRNAs that target HIV across a large number of infected individuals. Next generation sequencing (NGS) of LTRs from 269 HIV-1-infected samples in the Drexel CARES Cohort was used to select gRNAs with predicted broad-spectrum activity. In silico, D-LTR-P4-227913 (package of the top 4 gRNAs) accounted for all detectable genetic variation within the vQS of the 269 samples and the Los Alamos National Laboratory HIV database. In silico secondary structure analyses from NGS indicated extensive TAR stem-loop malformations predicted to inactivate proviral transcription, which was confirmed by reduced viral gene expression in TZM-bl or P4R5 cells. Similarly, a high sensitivity in vitro CRISPR/Cas9 cleavage assay showed that the top-ranked gRNA was the most effective at cleaving patient-derived HIV-1 LTRs from five patients. Furthermore, the D-LTR-P4-227913 was predicted to cleave a median of 96.1% of patient-derived sequences from other HIV subtypes. These results demonstrate that the gRNAs possess broad-spectrum cutting activity and could contribute to an HIV cure.

SUBMITTER: Sullivan NT 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6864089 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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