Towards personalised allele-specific CRISPR gene editing to treat autosomal dominant disorders

Kathleen A. Christie, David G. Courtney, Larry A. DeDionisio, Connie Chao Shern, Shyamasree De Majumdar, Laura C. Mairs, M. Andrew Nesbit, C. B. Tara Moore

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CRISPR/Cas9 holds immense potential to treat a range of genetic disorders. Allele-specific gene disruption induced by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) DNA repair offers a potential treatment option for autosomal dominant disease. Here, we successfully delivered a plasmid encoding S. pyogenes Cas9 and sgRNA to the corneal epithelium by intrastromal injection and acheived long-term knockdown of a corneal epithelial reporter gene, demonstrating gene disruption via NHEJ in vivo. In addition, we used TGFBI corneal dystrophies as a model of autosomal dominant disease to assess the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in two allele-specific systems, comparing cleavage using a SNP-derived PAM to a guide specific approach. In vitro, cleavage via a SNP-derived PAM was found to confer stringent allele-specific cleavage, while a guide-specific approach lacked the ability to distinguish between the wild-type and mutant alleles. The failings of the guide-specific approach highlights the necessity for meticulous guide design and assessment, as various degrees of allele-specificity are achieved depending on the guide sequence employed. A major concern for the use of CRISPR/Cas9 is its tendency to cleave DNA non-specifically at “off-target” sites. Confirmation that S. pyogenes Cas9 lacks the specificity to discriminate between alleles differing by a single base-pair regardless of the position in the guide is demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16174
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


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