Anti-CRISPR AcrIIA5 Potently Inhibits All Cas9 Homologs Used for Genome Editing.
ABSTRACT: CRISPR-Cas9 systems provide powerful tools for genome editing. However, optimal employment of this technology will require control of Cas9 activity so that the timing, tissue specificity, and accuracy of editing may be precisely modulated. Anti-CRISPR proteins, which are small, naturally occurring inhibitors of CRISPR-Cas systems, are well suited for this purpose. A number of anti-CRISPR proteins have been shown to potently inhibit subgroups of CRISPR-Cas9 systems, but their maximal inhibitory activity is generally restricted to specific Cas9 homologs. Since Cas9 homologs vary in important properties, differing Cas9s may be optimal for particular genome-editing applications. To facilitate the practical exploitation of multiple Cas9 homologs, here we identify one anti-CRISPR, called AcrIIA5, that potently inhibits nine diverse type II-A and type II-C Cas9 homologs, including those currently used for genome editing. We show that the activity of AcrIIA5 results in partial in vivo cleavage of a single-guide RNA (sgRNA), suggesting that its mechanism involves RNA interaction.
Project description:Genome editing technologies have been revolutionized by the discovery of prokaryotic RNA-guided defense system called CRISPR-Cas. Cas9, a single effector protein found in type II CRISPR systems, has been at the heart of this genome editing revolution. Nearly half of the Cas9s discovered so far belong to the type II-C subtype but have not been explored extensively. Type II-C CRISPR-Cas systems are the simplest of the type II systems, employing only three Cas proteins. Cas9s are central players in type II-C systems since they function in multiple steps of the CRISPR pathway, including adaptation and interference. Type II-C CRISPR systems are found in bacteria and archaea from very diverse environments, resulting in Cas9s with unique and potentially useful properties. Certain type II-C Cas9s possess unusually long PAMs, function in unique conditions (e.g., elevated temperature), and tend to be smaller in size. Here, we review the biology, mechanism, and applications of the type II-C CRISPR systems with particular emphasis on their Cas9s.
Project description:Although CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases are widely used for genome editing, the range of sequences that Cas9 can recognize is constrained by the need for a specific protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). As a result, it can often be difficult to target double-stranded breaks (DSBs) with the precision that is necessary for various genome-editing applications. The ability to engineer Cas9 derivatives with purposefully altered PAM specificities would address this limitation. Here we show that the commonly used Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) can be modified to recognize alternative PAM sequences using structural information, bacterial selection-based directed evolution, and combinatorial design. These altered PAM specificity variants enable robust editing of endogenous gene sites in zebrafish and human cells not currently targetable by wild-type SpCas9, and their genome-wide specificities are comparable to wild-type SpCas9 as judged by GUIDE-seq analysis. In addition, we identify and characterize another SpCas9 variant that exhibits improved specificity in human cells, possessing better discrimination against off-target sites with non-canonical NAG and NGA PAMs and/or mismatched spacers. We also find that two smaller-size Cas9 orthologues, Streptococcus thermophilus Cas9 (St1Cas9) and Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 (SaCas9), function efficiently in the bacterial selection systems and in human cells, suggesting that our engineering strategies could be extended to Cas9s from other species. Our findings provide broadly useful SpCas9 variants and, more importantly, establish the feasibility of engineering a wide range of Cas9s with altered and improved PAM specificities.
Project description:In their natural settings, CRISPR-Cas systems play crucial roles in bacterial and archaeal adaptive immunity to protect against phages and other mobile genetic elements, and they are also widely used as genome engineering technologies. Previously we discovered bacteriophage-encoded Cas9-specific anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins that serve as countermeasures against host bacterial immunity by inactivating their CRISPR-Cas systems (A. Pawluk, N. Amrani, Y. Zhang, B. Garcia, et al., Cell 167:1829-1838.e9, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.017). We hypothesized that the evolutionary advantages conferred by anti-CRISPRs would drive the widespread occurrence of these proteins in nature (K. L. Maxwell, Mol Cell 68:8-14, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2017.09.002; A. Pawluk, A. R. Davidson, and K. L. Maxwell, Nat Rev Microbiol 16:12-17, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro.2017.120; E. J. Sontheimer and A. R. Davidson, Curr Opin Microbiol 37:120-127, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2017.06.003). We have identified new anti-CRISPRs using the same bioinformatic approach that successfully identified previous Acr proteins (A. Pawluk, N. Amrani, Y. Zhang, B. Garcia, et al., Cell 167:1829-1838.e9, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.017) against Neisseria meningitidis Cas9 (NmeCas9). In this work, we report two novel anti-CRISPR families in strains of Haemophilus parainfluenzae and Simonsiella muelleri, both of which harbor type II-C CRISPR-Cas systems (A. Mir, A. Edraki, J. Lee, and E. J. Sontheimer, ACS Chem Biol 13:357-365, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1021/acschembio.7b00855). We characterize the type II-C Cas9 orthologs from H. parainfluenzae and S. muelleri, show that the newly identified Acrs are able to inhibit these systems, and define important features of their inhibitory mechanisms. The S. muelleri Acr is the most potent NmeCas9 inhibitor identified to date. Although inhibition of NmeCas9 by anti-CRISPRs from H. parainfluenzae and S. muelleri reveals cross-species inhibitory activity, more distantly related type II-C Cas9s are not inhibited by these proteins. The specificities of anti-CRISPRs and divergent Cas9s appear to reflect coevolution of their strategies to combat or evade each other. Finally, we validate these new anti-CRISPR proteins as potent off-switches for Cas9 genome engineering applications.IMPORTANCE As one of their countermeasures against CRISPR-Cas immunity, bacteriophages have evolved natural inhibitors known as anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins. Despite the existence of such examples for type II CRISPR-Cas systems, we currently know relatively little about the breadth of Cas9 inhibitors, and most of their direct Cas9 targets are uncharacterized. In this work we identify two new type II-C anti-CRISPRs and their cognate Cas9 orthologs, validate their functionality in vitro and in bacteria, define their inhibitory spectrum against a panel of Cas9 orthologs, demonstrate that they act before Cas9 DNA binding, and document their utility as off-switches for Cas9-based tools in mammalian applications. The discovery of diverse anti-CRISPRs, the mechanistic analysis of their cognate Cas9s, and the definition of Acr inhibitory mechanisms afford deeper insight into the interplay between Cas9 orthologs and their inhibitors and provide greater scope for exploiting Acrs for CRISPR-based genome engineering.
Project description:Genome editing, which introduces mutations in genes of interest using artificial DNA nucleases such as the ZFN, TALEN, and CRISPR/Cas9 systems in living cells, is a useful tool for generating mutant animals. Although CRISPR/Cas9 provides advantages over the two other systems, such as an easier vector construction and high efficiency of genome editing, it raises concerns of off-target effects when single guide RNA (gRNA) is used. Recently, FokI-dCas9 (fCas9), a fusion protein comprised of the inactivated mutant form of Cas9 and the DNA nuclease domain of FokI, has been developed. It enables genome editing with reduced risks of off-target effects in mammalian cultured cell lines, as fCas9 requires gRNAs to bind opposite strands with an appropriate distance between them. Here, we demonstrated that fCas9 efficiently generates living mutant mice through microinjection of its mRNA and gRNAs into zygotes. A comparison of the relative efficiencies of genome editing using fCas9 and other modified Cas9s showed that these mutagenesis efficiencies are similar when the targets of two gRNAs are separated by an appropriate distance, suggesting that in addition to the ease of vector construction, fCas9 exhibit high efficiency in producing mutant mice and in reducing risks of off-target effects.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing has transformed biotechnology and therapeutics. However, in vivo applications of some Cas9s are hindered by large size (limiting delivery by adeno-associated virus [AAV] vectors), off-target editing, or complex protospacer-adjacent motifs (PAMs) that restrict the density of recognition sequences in target DNA. Here, we exploited natural variation in the PAM-interacting domains (PIDs) of closely related Cas9s to identify a compact ortholog from Neisseria meningitidis-Nme2Cas9-that recognizes a simple dinucleotide PAM (N4CC) that provides for high target site density. All-in-one AAV delivery of Nme2Cas9 with a guide RNA targeting Pcsk9 in adult mouse liver produces efficient genome editing and reduced serum cholesterol with exceptionally high specificity. We further expand our single-AAV platform to pre-implanted zygotes for streamlined generation of genome-edited mice. Nme2Cas9 combines all-in-one AAV compatibility, exceptional editing accuracy within cells, and high target site density for in vivo genome editing applications.
Project description:Bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases have been repurposed as powerful genome editing tools. Whereas engineering guide RNAs or Cas nucleases have proven to improve the efficiency of CRISPR editing, modulation of protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM), indispensable for CRISPR, has been less explored. Here, we develop a DNA origami-based platform to program a PAM antenna microenvironment and address its performance at the single-molecule level with submolecular resolution. To mimic spatially controlled in vivo PAM distribution as may occur in chromatin, we investigate the effect of PAM antennae surrounding target DNA. We find that PAM antennae effectively sensitize the DNA cleavage by recruiting Cas9 molecules. Super-resolution tracking of single single-guide RNA/Cas9s reveals localized translocation of Cas9 among spatially proximal PAMs. We find that the introduction of the PAM antennae effectively modulates the microenvironment for enhanced target cleavage (up to ~50%). These results provide insight into factors that promote more efficient genome editing.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 technology would be enhanced by the ability to inhibit Cas9 function spatially, temporally, or conditionally. Previously, we discovered small proteins encoded by bacteriophages that inhibit the CRISPR-Cas systems of their host bacteria. These "anti-CRISPRs" were specific to type I CRISPR-Cas systems that do not employ the Cas9 protein. We posited that nature would also yield Cas9 inhibitors in response to the evolutionary arms race between bacteriophages and their hosts. Here, we report the discovery of three distinct families of anti-CRISPRs that specifically inhibit the CRISPR-Cas9 system of Neisseria meningitidis. We show that these proteins bind directly to N. meningitidis Cas9 (NmeCas9) and can be used as potent inhibitors of genome editing by this system in human cells. These anti-CRISPR proteins now enable "off-switches" for CRISPR-Cas9 activity and provide a genetically encodable means to inhibit CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in eukaryotes. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful genome editing tool for the production of genetically modified animals. To produce mutant mice, chimeric single-guide RNA (sgRNA) is cloned in a plasmid vector and a mixture of sgRNA and Cas9 are microinjected into the fertilized eggs. An issue associated with gene manipulation using the CRISPR/Cas9 system is that there can be off-target effects. To simplify the production of mutant mice with low risks of off-target effects caused by the CRISPR/Cas9 system, we demonstrated that genetically modified mice can be efficiently obtained using chemically synthesized CRISPR RNA (crRNA), trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA), and modified Cas9s, such as the nickase version and FokI-fused catalytically inactive Cas9, by microinjection into fertilized eggs. Using this method, it is no longer necessary to clone sgRNA into a plasmid vector, and this enables high-throughput production of mutant mice.
Project description:The development of robust, versatile and accurate toolsets is critical to facilitate therapeutic genome editing applications. Here we establish RNA-programmable Cas9-Cas9 chimeras, in single- and dual-nuclease formats, as versatile genome engineering systems. In both of these formats, Cas9-Cas9 fusions display an expanded targeting repertoire and achieve highly specific genome editing. Dual-nuclease Cas9-Cas9 chimeras have distinct advantages over monomeric Cas9s including higher target site activity and the generation of predictable precise deletion products between their target sites. At a therapeutically relevant site within the BCL11A erythroid enhancer, Cas9-Cas9 nucleases produced precise deletions that comprised up to 97% of all sequence alterations. Thus Cas9-Cas9 chimeras represent an important tool that could be particularly valuable for therapeutic genome editing applications where a precise cleavage position and defined sequence end products are desirable.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system or its derived base editors enables targeted genome modification, thereby providing a programmable tool to exploit gene functions and to improve crop traits. RESULTS:We report that PmCDA1 is much more efficient than rAPOBEC1 when fused to CRISPR/Cas9 nickase for the conversion of cytosine (C) to thymine (T) in rice. Three high-fidelity SpCas9 variants, eSpCas9(1.1), SpCas9-HF2 and HypaCas9, were engineered to serve with PmCDA1 (pBEs) as C-to-T base editors. These three high-fidelity editors had distinct multiplex-genome editing efficiencies. To substantially improve their base-editing efficiencies, a tandemly arrayed tRNA-modified single guide RNA (sgRNA) architecture was applied. The efficiency of eSpCas9(1.1)-pBE was enhanced up to 25.5-fold with an acceptable off-target effect. Moreover, two- to five-fold improvement was observed for knock-out mutation frequency by these high-fidelity Cas9s under the direction of the tRNA-modified sgRNA architecture. CONCLUSIONS:We have engineered a diverse toolkit for efficient and precise genome engineering in rice, thus making genome editing for plant research and crop improvement more flexible.