(19)
(11)EP 2 971 125 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 14763916.5

(22)Date of filing:  14.03.2014
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C12Q 1/68  (2018.01)
C07H 21/04  (2006.01)
C12N 15/00  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2014/029068
(87)International publication number:
WO 2014/144592 (18.09.2014 Gazette  2014/38)

(54)

USING TRUNCATED GUIDE RNAS (TRU-GRNAS) TO INCREASE SPECIFICITY FOR RNA-GUIDED GENOME EDITING

VERWENDUNG VON VERKÜRZTEN RNAS (TRU-GRNAS) ZUR ERHÖHUNG DER SPEZIFITÄT FÜR RNA-GEFÜHRTE GENOMEDITIERUNG

UTILISATION D'ARN DE GUIDAGE TRONQUÉS (ARNG TRON) POUR UNE AUGMENTATION DE LA SPÉCIFICITÉ D'ÉDITION GÉNOMIQUE GUIDÉE PAR ARN


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 15.03.2013 US 201361799647 P
21.06.2013 US 201361838178 P
21.06.2013 US 201361838148 P
26.12.2013 US 201361921007 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.01.2016 Bulletin 2016/03

(73)Proprietor: The General Hospital Corporation
Boston, MA 02114 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • JOUNG, J. Keith
    Winchester Massachusetts 01890 (US)
  • SANDER, Jeffry D.
    Ankeny, IA 50023 (US)
  • FU, Yanfang
    Malden Massachusetts 02148 (US)
  • MAEDER, Morgan
    Brookline Massachusetts 02446 (US)

(74)Representative: Donald, Jenny Susan et al
Forresters IP LLP Skygarden Erika-Mann-Strasse 11
80636 München
80636 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2011 300 538
  
  • WENYAN JIANG ET AL: "RNA-guided editing of bacterial genomes using CRISPR-Cas systems", NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY, vol. 31, no. 3, 29 January 2013 (2013-01-29), pages 233-239, XP055249123, ISSN: 1087-0156, DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2508
  • BLAKE WIEDENHEFT ET AL: "RNA-guided genetic silencing systems in bacteria and archaea", NATURE, vol. 482, no. 7385, 15 February 2012 (2012-02-15), pages 331-338, XP055116249, ISSN: 0028-0836, DOI: 10.1038/nature10886
  • YANFANG FU ET AL: "Improving CRISPR-Cas nuclease specificity using truncated guide RNAs", NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY, vol. 32, no. 3, 26 January 2014 (2014-01-26), pages 279-284, XP055194360, ISSN: 1087-0156, DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2808 -& YANFANG FU ET AL: "Improving CRISPR-Cas nuclease specificity using truncated guide RNAs", NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY, vol. 32, no. 3, 26 January 2014 (2014-01-26), pages 279-284, XP055259718, ISSN: 1087-0156, DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2808
  • FU Y ET AL: "Targeted genome editing in human cells using CRISPR/Cas nucleases and truncated guide RNAsc", 1 January 2014 (2014-01-01), USE OF CRISPR/CAS9, ZFNS, AND TALENS IN GENERATING SITE-SPECIFIC GENOME ALTERATIONS IN: METHODS IN ENZYMOLOGY; ISSN 1557-7988; VOL. 546; [METHODS IN ENZYMOLOGY; ISSN 1557-7988; VOL. 546], ELSEVIER, NL, PAGE(S) 21 - 45, XP008179585, ISBN: 978-0-12-801185-0 [retrieved on 2014-11-12] * page 26; figure 2.1 *
  • JINEK ET AL.: 'RNA-programmed genome editing in human cells.' ELIFE. vol. 2, 29 January 2013, page E00471, XP055245475
  • JINEK ET AL.: 'A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity.' SCIENCE vol. 337, no. 6096, 2012, pages 816 - 21, XP055229606
  • HSU ET AL.: 'DNA targeting specificity of RNA-guided Cas9 nucleases.' NAT BIOTECHNOL. vol. 31, no. 9, September 2013, XP055219426
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

CLAIM OF PRIORITY



[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application Serial Nos. 61/799,647, filed on March 15, 2013; 61/838,178, filed on June 21, 2013; 61/838,148, filed on June 21, 2013, and 61/921,007, filed on December 26, 2013.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT



[0002] This invention was made with Government support under Grant Nos. DP1 GM105378 awarded by the National Institutes of Health. The Government has certain rights in the invention.

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0003] Methods for increasing specificity of RNA-guided genome editing, using CRISPR/Cas9 systems, using truncated guide RNAs (tru-gRNAs).

BACKGROUND



[0004] Recent work has demonstrated that clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems (Wiedenheft et al., Nature 482, 331-338 (2012); Horvath et al., Science 327, 167-170 (2010); Terns et al., Curr Opin Microbiol 14, 321-327 (2011)) can serve as the basis for performing genome editing in bacteria, yeast and human cells, as well as in vivo in whole organisms such as fruit flies, zebrafish and mice (Wang et al., Cell 153, 910-918 (2013); Shen et al., Cell Res (2013); Dicarlo et al., Nucleic Acids Res (2013); Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013); Jinek et al., Elife 2, e00471 (2013); Hwang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 227-229 (2013); Cong et al., Science 339, 819-823 (2013); Mali et al., Science 339, 823-826 (2013c); Cho et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 230-232 (2013); Gratz et al., Genetics 194(4):1029-35 (2013)). The Cas9 nuclease from S. pyogenes (hereafter simply Cas9) can be guided via base pair complementarity between the first 20 nucleotides of an engineered guide RNA (gRNA) and the complementary strand of a target genomic DNA sequence of interest that lies next to a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., a PAM matching the sequence NGG or NAG (Shen et al., Cell Res (2013); Dicarlo et al., Nucleic Acids Res (2013); Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013); Jinek et al., Elife 2, e00471 (2013); Hwang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 227-229 (2013); Cong et al., Science 339, 819-823 (2013); Mali et al., Science 339, 823-826 (2013c); Cho et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 230-232 (2013); Jinek et al., Science 337, 816-821 (2012)). Previous studies performed in vitro (Jinek et al., Science 337, 816-821 (2012)), in bacteria (Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013)) and in human cells (Cong et al., Science 339, 819-823 (2013)) have shown that Cas9-mediated cleavage can, in some cases, be abolished by single mismatches at the gRNA/target site interface, particularly in the last 10-12 nucleotides (nts) located in the 3' end of the 20 nt gRNA complementarity region.

SUMMARY



[0005] The invention is defined in the appended claims.

[0006] CRISPR-Cas genome editing uses a guide RNA, which includes both a complementarity region (which binds the target DNA by base-pairing) and a Cas9-binding region, to direct a Cas9 nuclease to a target DNA (see Figure 1). The nuclease can tolerate a number of mismatches (up to five, as shown herein) in the complementarity region and still cleave; it is hard to predict the effects of any given single or combination of mismatches on activity. Taken together, these nucleases can show significant off-target effects but it can be challenging to predict these sites. Described herein are methods for increasing the specificity of genome editing using the CRISPR/Cas system, e.g., using Cas9 or Cas9-based fusion proteins. In particular, the claimed methods use truncated guide RNAs (tru-gRNAs) that include a shortened target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, As used herein, "17-18" includes 17 or 18nucleotides.

[0007] The invention provides the claimed methods that that use a guide RNA molecule (e.g., a single guide RNA or a crRNA) having a target complementarity region of 17-18 nucleotides;the target complementarity region consists of 17-18 nucleotides of consecutive target complementarity. The guide RNA includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence. The target complementarity region consists of 17-18 nucleotides (of target complementarity). In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 17 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence. In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence.

[0008] In another aspect, the claimed methods use a Cas9 guide RNA consisting of the sequence:

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407); or

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGtTUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG (SEQ ID NO:1);





wherein X17-18 is a sequence (of 17-18 nucleotides) is the target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence, and a target sequence immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG (see, for example, the configuration in Figure 1)In no case is the X17-18 identical to a sequence that naturally occurs adjacent to the rest of the RNA. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more U, e.g., 1 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more, e.g., up to 3, e.g., one, two, or three, additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that is not complementary to the target sequence. In some embodiments, the target complementarity region consists of 17-18 nucleotides (of target complementarity). In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 17 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence. In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 18 consecutive



[0009] In another aspect of the disclosure, the invention provides DNA molecules encoding the ribonucleic acids described herein, and host cells harboring or expressing the ribonucleic acids or vectors.

[0010] In an aspect, the invention provides methods for increasing specificity of RNA-guided genome editing in a cell, the method comprising contacting the cell with a guide RNA having a target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, wherein the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM),as described herein.

[0011] In yet another aspect, the invention provides methods for inducing a single or double-stranded break in a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule, e.g., in a genomic sequence in a cell. The methods include expressing in or introducing into the cell: a Cas9 nuclease or nickase; and a guide RNA that includes a sequence consisting of 17 or 18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence, the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG, e.g., a ribonucleic acid as described herein.

[0012] Also provided herein are methods for modifying a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule in a cell. The methods include expressing in or introducing into the cell: a dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein (dCas9-HFD) wherein the dCas9 has catalytic inactivating mutations in one or both nuclease domains; wherein the dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein comprises a heterologous functional domain (HFD) selected from the group consisting of: a HFD that modifies gene expression, histones, or DNA; a transcriptional activation domain; an enzyme that catalyzes DNA demethylation; an enzyme that catalyzes histone modification, or a transcription silencing domain; and a guide RNA that includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, , wherein the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), as described herein.

[0013] In some embodiments, the guide RNA is (i) a single guide RNA that includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, or (ii) a crRNA that includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, and a tracrRNA.

[0014] The target complementarity region consists of 17-18 nucleotides (of target complementarity). In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 17 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence. In some embodiments, the complementarity region is complementary to 18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence.

[0015] In no case is the X17-18 of any of the molecules described herein identical to a sequence that naturally occurs adjacent to the rest of the RNA. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more U, e.g., 1 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more, e.g., up to 3, e.g., one, two, or three, additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that is not complementary to the target sequence.

[0016] In some embodiments, one or more of the nucleotides of the RNA is modified, e.g., locked (2'-O-4'-C methylene bridge), is 5'-methylcytidine, is 2'-O-methyl-pseudouridine, or in which the ribose phosphate backbone has been replaced by a polyamide chain, e.g., one or more of the nucleotides within or outside the target complementarity region X17-18. In some embodiments, some or all of the tracrRNA or crRNA, e.g., within or outside the X17-18 target complementarity region, comprises deoxyribonucleotides (e.g., is all or partially DNA, e.g. DNA/RNA hybrids).

[0017] In an additional aspect, the invention provides methods for modifying a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule, e.g., in a genomic sequence in a cell. The methods include expressing in or introducing into the cell:

a dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein (dCas9-HFD), wherein the dCas9 has catalytic inactivating mutations in one or both nuclease domains; wherein the dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein comprises a heterologous functional domain (HFD) selected from the group consisting of: a HFD that modifies gene expression, histones, or DNA; a transcriptional activation domain; an enzyme that catalyzes DNA demethylation; an enzyme that catalyzes histone modification, or a transcription silencing domain; and

a guide RNA that includes a sequence consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence, and the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG, e.g., a ribonucleic acid as described herein. In no case is the X17-18 identical to a sequence that naturally occurs adjacent to the rest of the RNA. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more, e.g., up to 3, e.g., one, two, or three, additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that is not complementary to the target sequence.



[0018] In another aspect, the invention provides methods for modifying, e.g., introducing a sequence specific break into, a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule, e.g., in a genomic sequence in a cell. The methods include expressing in or introducing into the cell: a Cas9 nuclease or nickase, or a dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein (dCas9-HFD);
a tracrRNA, e.g., comprising or consisting of the sequence GGAACCAUUCAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:8) or an active portion thereof;
UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCA CCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2405) or an active portion thereof;;
AGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGU GGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2407) or an active portion thereof;
CAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGA AAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2409) or an active portion thereof;
UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUG (SEQ ID NO:2410) or an active portion thereof;
UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCA (SEQ ID NO:2411) or an active portion thereof; or
UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG (SEQ ID NO:2412) or an active portion thereof; and
a crRNA that includes a sequence consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence, and a target sequence immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG; in some embodiments the crRNA has the sequence:

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA (SEQ ID NO:2404);

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407); or

(X17-18)GUUUUTUAGAGCUAUGCU (SEQ ID NO:2408).



[0019] In some embodiments the crRNA is (X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407) and the tracrRNA is GGAACCAUUCAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:8); the cRNA is (X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA (SEQ ID NO:2404) and the tracrRNA is UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCA CCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2405); or the cRNA is (X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCU (SEQ ID NO:2408) and the tracrRNA is



[0020] In no case is the X17-18 identical to a sequence that naturally occurs adjacent to the rest of the RNA. In some embodiments the RNA (e.g., tracrRNA or crRNA) includes one or more U, e.g., 2 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription. In some embodiments the RNA (e.g., tracrRNA or crRNA) includes one or more, e.g., up to 3, e.g., one, two, or three, additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that is not complementary to the target sequence. In some embodiments, one or more of the nucleotides of the crRNA or tracrRNA is modified, e.g., locked (2'-O-4'-C methylene bridge), is 5'-methylcytidine, is 2'-O-methyl-pseudouridine, or in which the ribose phosphate backbone has been replaced by a polyamide chain, e.g., one or more of the nucleotides within or outside the sequence X17-18. In some embodiments, some or all of the tracrRNA or crRNA, e.g., within or outside the X17-18 target complementarity region, comprises deoxyribonucleotides (e.g., is all or partially DNA, e.g. DNA/RNA hybrids).

[0021] The dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein (dCas9-HFD) comprises a HFD that modifies gene expression, histones, or DNA, e.g., transcriptional activation domain, transcriptional repressors (e.g., silencers such as Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), e.g., HP1α or HP1β), enzymes that modify the methylation state of DNA (e.g., DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) or TET proteins, e.g., TET1), or enzymes that modify histone subunit (e.g., histone acetyltransferases (HAT), histone deacetylases (HDAC), or histone demethylases). In preferred embodiments, the heterologous functional domain is a transcriptional activation domain, e.g., a VP64 or NF-κB p65 transcriptional activation domain; an enzyme that catalyzes DNA demethylation, e.g., a TET protein family member or the catalytic domain from one of these family members; or histone modification (e.g., LSD1, histone methyltransferase, HDACs, or HATs) or a transcription silencing domain, e.g., from Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), e.g., HP1α or HP1β; or a biological tether, e.g., MS2, CRISPR/Cas Subtype Ypest protein 4 (Csy4) or lambda N protein. dCas9-HFD are described in a U.S. Provisional Patent Applications USSN 61/799,647, Filed on March 15, 2013, Attorney docket no. 00786-0882P02, USSN 61/838,148, filed on 6/21/2013, and PCT International Application No. PCT/US14/27335.

[0022] In some embodiments, the methods described herein result in an indel mutation or sequence alteration in the selected target genomic sequence.

[0023] In some embodiments, the cell is a eukaryotic cell, e.g., a mammalian cell, e.g., a human cell.

[0024] Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Methods and materials are described herein for use in the present invention; other, suitable methods and materials known in the art can also be used. The materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control.

[0025] Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description and figures, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS



[0026] 
Figure 1: Schematic illustrating a gRNA/Cas9 nuclease complex bound to its target DNA site. Scissors indicate approximate cleavage points of the Cas9 nuclease on the genomic DNA target site. Note the numbering of nucleotides on the guide RNA proceeds in an inverse fashion from 5' to 3'.
Figure 2A: Schematic illustrating a rationale for truncating the 5' complementarity region of a gRNA. Thick grey lines = target DNA site, thin dark grey line structure = gRNA, black lines show base pairing (or lack thereof) between gRNA and target DNA site.
Figure 2B: Schematic overview of the EGFP disruption assay. Repair of targeted Cas9-mediated double-stranded breaks in a single integrated EGFP-PEST reporter gene by error-prone NHEJ-mediated repair leads to frame-shift mutations that disrupt the coding sequence and associated loss of fluorescence in cells.
Figures 2C-F: Activities of RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) harboring single guide RNAs (gRNAs) bearing (C) single mismatches, (D) adjacent double mismatches, (E) variably spaced double mismatches, and (F) increasing numbers of adjacent mismatches assayed on three different target sites in the EGFP reporter gene sequence. Mean activities of replicates are shown, normalized to the activity of a perfectly matched single gRNA. Error bars indicate standard errors of the mean. Positions mismatched in each single gRNA are highlighted in grey in the grid below. Sequences of the three EGFP target sites were as follows:
EGFP Site 1 GGGCAAGGGCAGCTTGCCGGTGG (SEQ ID NO:9)
EGFP Site 2 GATGCCGTTCTTCTGCTTGTCGG (SEQ ID NO:10)
EGFP Site 3 GGTGGTGCAGATGAACTTCAGGG (SEQ ID NO:11)

Figure 2G: Mismatches at the 5' end of the gRNA make CRISPR/Cas more sensitive more 3' mismatches. The gRNAs Watson-Crick base pair between the RNA&DNA with the exception of positions indicated with an "m" which are mismatched using the Watson-Crick transversion (i.e., EGFP Site#2 M18-19 is mismatched by changing the gRNA to its Watson-Crick partner at positions 18 & 19. Although positions near the 5' of the gRNA are generally very well tolerated, matches in these positions are important for nuclease activity when other residues are mismatched. When all four positions are mismatched, nuclease activity is no longer detectable. This further demonstrates that matches at these 5' position can help compensate for mismatches at other more 3' positions. Note these experiments were performed with a non-codon optimized version of Cas9 which can show lower absolute levels of nuclease activity as compared to the codon optimized version.
Figure 2H: Efficiency of Cas9 nuclease activities directed by gRNAs bearing variable length complementarity regions ranging from 15 to 25 nts in a human cell-based U2OS EGFP disruption assay. Expression of a gRNA from the U6 promoter requires the presence of a 5' G and therefore it was only possible to evaluate gRNAs harboring certain lengths of complementarity to the target DNA site (15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 25 nts).
Figure 3A: Efficiencies of EGFP disruption in human cells mediated by Cas9 and full-length or shortened gRNAs for four target sites in the EGFP reporter gene. Lengths of complementarity regions and corresponding target DNA sites are shown. Ctrl = control gRNA lacking a complementarity region.
Figure 3B: Efficiencies of targeted indel mutations introduced at seven different human endogenous gene targets by matched standard RGNs (Cas9 and standard full-length gRNAs) and tru-RGNs (Cas9 and gRNAs bearing truncations in their 5' complementarity regions). Lengths of gRNA complementarity regions and corresponding target DNA sites are shown. Indel frequencies were measured by T7EI assay. Ctrl = control gRNA lacking a complementarity region.
Figure 3C: DNA sequences of indel mutations induced by RGNs using a tru-gRNA or a matched full-length gRNA targeted to the EMX1 site. The portion of the target DNA site that interacts with the gRNA complementarity region is highlighted in grey with the first base of the PAM sequence shown in lowercase. Deletions are indicated by dashes highlighted in grey and insertions by italicized letters highlighted in grey. The net number of bases deleted or inserted and the number of times each sequence was isolated are shown to the right.
Figure 3D: Efficiencies of precise HDR/ssODN-mediated alterations introduced at two endogenous human genes by matched standard and tru-RGNs. %HDR was measured using a BamHI restriction digest assay (see the Experimental Procedures for Example 2). Control gRNA = empty U6 promoter vector.
Figure 3E: U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected with variable amounts of full-length gRNA expression plasmids (top) or tru-gRNA expression plasmids (bottom) together with a fixed amount of Cas9 expression plasmid and then assayed for percentage of cells with decreased EGFP expression. Mean values from duplicate experiments are shown with standard errors of the mean. Note that the data obtained with tru-gRNA matches closely with data from experiments performed with full-length gRNA expression plasmids instead of tru-gRNA plasmids for these three EGFP target sites.
Figure 3F: U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected with variable amount of Cas9 expression plasmid together with fixed amounts of full-length gRNA expression plasmids (top) or tru-gRNA expression plasmids (bottom) for each target (amounts determined for each tru-gRNA from the experiments of Figure 3E). Mean values from duplicate experiments are shown with standard errors of the mean. Note that the data obtained with tru-gRNA matches closely with data from experiments performed with full-length gRNA expression plasmids instead of tru-gRNA plasmids for these three EGFP target sites. The results of these titrations determined the concentrations of plasmids used in the EGFP disruption assays performed in Examples 1 and 2.
Figure 4A: Schematic illustrating locations of VEGFA sites 1 and 4 targeted by gRNAs for paired double nicks. Target sites for the full-length gRNAs are underlined with the first base in the PAM sequence shown in lowercase. Location of the BamHI restriction site inserted by HDR with a ssODN donor is shown.
Figure 4B: A tru-gRNA can be used with a paired nickase strategy to efficiently induce indel mutations. Substitution of a full-length gRNA for VEGFA site 1 with a tru-gRNA does not reduce the efficiency of indel mutations observed with a paired full-length gRNA for VEGFA site 4 and Cas9-D10A nickases. Control gRNA used is one lacking a complementarity region.
Figure 4C: A tru-gRNA can be used with a paired nickase strategy to efficiently induce precise HDR/ssODN-mediated sequence alterations. Substitution of a full-length gRNA for VEGFA site 1 with a tru-gRNA does not reduce the efficiency of indel mutations observed with a paired full-length gRNA for VEGFA site 4 and Cas9-D10A nickases with an ssODN donor template. Control gRNA used is one lacking a complementarity region.
Figure 5A: Activities of RGNs targeted to three sites in EGFP using full-length (top) or tru-gRNAs (bottom) with single mismatches at each position (except at the 5'-most base which must remain a G for efficient expression from the U6 promoter). Grey boxes in the grid below represent positions of the Watson-Crick transversion mismatches. Empty gRNA control used is a gRNA lacking a complementarity region. RGN activities were measured using the EGFP disruption assay and values shown represent the percentage of EGFP-negative observed relative to an RGN using a perfectly matched gRNA. Experiments were performed in duplicate and means with error bars representing standard errors of the mean are shown.
Figure 5B: Activities of RGNs targeted to three sites in EGFP using full-length (top) or tru-gRNAs (bottom) with adjacent double mismatches at each position (except at the 5'-most base which must remain a G for efficient expression from the U6 promoter). Data presented as in 5A.
Figure 6A: Absolute frequencies of on- and off-target indel mutations induced by RGNs targeted to three different endogenous human gene sites as measured by deep sequencing. Indel frequencies are shown for the three target sites from cells in which targeted RGNs with a full-length gRNA, a tru-gRNA, or a control gRNA lacking a complementarity region were expressed. Absolute counts of indel mutations used to make these graphs can be found in Table 3B.
Figure 6B: Fold-improvements in off-target site specificities of three tru-RGNs. Values shown represent the ratio of on/off-target activities of tru-RGNs to on/off-target activities of standard RGNs for the off-target sites shown, calculated using the data from (A) and Table 3B. For the sites marked with an asterisk (*), no indels were observed with the tru-RGN and therefore the values shown represent conservative statistical estimates for the fold-improvements in specificities for these off-target sites (see Results and Experimental Procedures).
Figure 6C, top: Comparison of the on-target and an off-target site identified by T7EI assay for the tru-RGN targeted to VEGFA site 1 (more were identified by deep sequencing). Note that the full-length gRNA is mismatched to the two nucleotides at the 5' end of the target site and that these are the two nucleotides not present in the tru-gRNA target site. Mismatches in the off-target site relative to the on-target are highlighted in bold underlined text. Mismatches between the gRNAs and the off-target site are shown with X's.
Figure 6C, bottom: Indel mutation frequencies induced in the off-target site by RGNs bearing full-length or truncated gRNAs. Indel mutation frequencies were determined by T7EI assay. Note that the off-target site in this figure is one that we had examined previously for indel mutations induced by the standard RGN targeted to VEGFA site 1 and designated as site OT1-30 in that earlier study (Example 1 and Fu et al., Nat Biotechnol. 31(9):822-6 (2013)). It is likely that we did not identify off-target mutations at this site in our previous experiments because the frequency of indel mutations appears to be at the reliable detection limit of the T7EI assay (2-5%).
Figures 7A-D: DNA sequences of indel mutations induced by RGNs using tru-gRNAs or matched full-length gRNAs targeted to VEGFA sites 1 and 3. Sequences depicted as in Figure 3C.
Figure 7E. Indel mutation frequencies induced by tru-gRNAs bearing a mismatched 5' G nucleotide. Indel mutation frequencies in human U2OS.EGFP cells induced by Cas9 directed by tru-gRNAs bearing 17, 18 or 20 nt complementarity regions for VEGFA sites 1 and 3 and EMX1 site 1 are shown. Three of these gRNAs contain a mismatched 5' G (indicated by positions marked in bold text). Bars indicate results from experiments using full-length gRNA (20 nt), tru-gRNA (17 or 18 nt), and tru-gRNA with a mismatched 5' G nucleotide (17 or 18 nt with boldface T at 5' end). (Note that no activity was detectable for the mismatched tru-gRNA to EMX1 site 1.)
Figures 8A-C: Sequences of off-target indel mutations induced by RGNs in human U2OS.EGFP cells. Wild-type genomic off-target sites recognized by RGNs (including the PAM sequence) are highlighted in grey and numbered as in Table 1 and Table B. Note that the complementary strand is shown for some sites. Deleted bases are shown as dashes on a grey background. Inserted bases are italicized and highlighted in grey.
Figures 9A-C: Sequences of off-target indel mutations induced by RGNs in human HEK293 cells. Wild-type genomic off-target sites recognized by RGNs (including the PAM sequence) are highlighted in grey and numbered as in Table 1 and Table B. Note that the complementary strand is shown for some sites. Deleted bases are shown as dashes on a grey background. Inserted bases are italicized and highlighted in grey. *Yielded a large number of single bp indels.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0027] CRISPR RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) have rapidly emerged as a facile and efficient platform for genome editing. Although Marraffini and colleagues (Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013)) recently performed a systematic investigation of Cas9 RGN specificity in bacteria, the specificities of RGNs in human cells have not been extensively defined. Understanding the scope of RGN-mediated off-target effects in human and other eukaryotic cells will be critically essential if these nucleases are to be used widely for research and therapeutic applications. The present inventors have used a human cell-based reporter assay to characterize off-target cleavage of Cas9-based RGNs. Single and double mismatches were tolerated to varying degrees depending on their position along the guide RNA (gRNA)-DNA interface. Off-target alterations induced by four out of six RGNs targeted to endogenous loci in human cells were readily detected by examination of partially mismatched sites. The off-target sites identified harbor up to five mismatches and many are mutagenized with frequencies comparable to (or higher than) those observed at the intended on-target site. Thus RGNs are highly active even with imperfectly matched RNA-DNA interfaces in human cells, a finding that might confound their use in research and therapeutic applications.

[0028] The results described herein reveal that predicting the specificity profile of any given RGN is neither simple nor straightforward. The EGFP reporter assay experiments show that single and double mismatches can have variable effects on RGN activity in human cells that do not strictly depend upon their position(s) within the target site. For example, consistent with previously published reports, alterations in the 3' half of the sgRNA/DNA interface generally have greater effects than those in the 5' half (Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013); Cong et al., Science 339, 819-823 (2013); Jinek et al., Science 337, 816-821 (2012)); however, single and double mutations in the 3' end sometimes also appear to be well tolerated whereas double mutations in the 5' end can greatly diminish activities. In addition, the magnitude of these effects for mismatches at any given position(s) appears to be site-dependent. Comprehensive profiling of a large series of RGNs with testing of all possible nucleotide substitutions (beyond the Watson-Crick transversions used in our EGFP reporter experiments) may help provide additional insights into the range of potential off-targets. In this regard, the recently described bacterial cell-based method of Marraffini and colleagues (Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013)) or the in vitro, combinatorial library-based cleavage site-selection methodologies previously applied to ZFNs by Liu and colleagues (Pattanayak et al., Nat Methods 8, 765-770 (2011)) might be useful for generating larger sets of RGN specificity profiles.

[0029] Despite these challenges in comprehensively predicting RGN specificities, it was possible to identify bona fide off-targets of RGNs by examining a subset of genomic sites that differed from the on-target site by one to five mismatches. Notably, under conditions of these experiments, the frequencies of RGN-induced mutations at many of these off-target sites were similar to (or higher than) those observed at the intended on-target site, enabling the detection of mutations at these sites using the T7EI assay (which, as performed in our laboratory, has a reliable detection limit of ∼2 to 5% mutation frequency). Because these mutation rates were very high, it was possible to avoid using deep sequencing methods previously required to detect much lower frequency ZFN- and TALEN-induced off-target alterations (Pattanayak et al., Nat Methods 8, 765-770 (2011); Perez et al., Nat Biotechnol 26, 808-816 (2008); Gabriel et al., Nat Biotechnol 29, 816-823 (2011); Hockemeyer et al., Nat Biotechnol 29, 731-734 (2011)). Analysis of RGN off-target mutagenesis in human cells also confirmed the difficulties of predicting RGN specificities - not all single and double mismatched off-target sites show evidence of mutation whereas some sites with as many as five mismatches can also show alterations. Furthermore, the bona fide off-target sites identified do not exhibit any obvious bias toward transition or transversion differences relative to the intended target sequence (Table E; grey highlighted rows).

[0030] Although off-target sites were seen for a number of RGNs, identification of these sites was neither comprehensive nor genome-wide in scale. For the six RGNs studied, only a very small subset of the much larger total number of potential off-target sequences in the human genome (sites that differ by three to six nucleotides from the intended target site; compare Tables E and C) was examined. Although examining such large numbers of loci for off-target mutations by T7EI assay is neither a practical nor a cost-effective strategy, the use of high-throughput sequencing in future studies might enable the interrogation of larger numbers of candidate off-target sites and provide a more sensitive method for detecting bona fide off-target mutations. For example, such an approach might enable the unveiling of additional off-target sites for the two RGNs for which we failed to uncover any off-target mutations. In addition, an improved understanding both of RGN specificities and of any epigenomic factors (e.g., DNA methylation and chromatin status) that may influence RGN activities in cells might also reduce the number of potential sites that need to be examined and thereby make genome-wide assessments of RGN off-targets more practical and affordable.

[0031] As described herein, a number of strategies can be used to minimize the frequencies of genomic off-target mutations. For example, the specific choice of RGN target site can be optimized; given that off-target sites that differ at up to five positions from the intended target site can be efficiently mutated by RGNs, choosing target sites with minimal numbers of off-target sites as judged by mismatch counting seems unlikely to be effective; thousands of potential off-target sites that differ by four or five positions within the 20 bp RNA:DNA complementarity region will typically exist for any given RGN targeted to a sequence in the human genome (see, for example, Table C). It is also possible that the nucleotide content of the gRNA complementarity region might influence the range of potential off-target effects. For example, high GC-content has been shown to stabilize RNA:DNA hybrids (Sugimoto et al., Biochemistry 34, 11211-11216 (1995)) and therefore might also be expected to make gRNA/genomic DNA hybridization more stable and more tolerant to mismatches. Additional experiments with larger numbers of gRNAs will be needed to assess if and how these two parameters (numbers of mismatched sites in the genome and stability of the RNA:DNA hybrid) influence the genome-wide specificities of RGNs. However, it is important to note that even if such predictive parameters can be defined, the effect of implementing such guidelines would be to further restrict the targeting range of RGNs.

[0032] One potential general strategy for reducing RGN-induced off-target effects might be to reduce the concentrations of gRNA and Cas9 nuclease expressed in the cell. This idea was tested using the RGNs for VEGFA target sites 2 and 3 in U2OS.EGFP cells; transfecting less sgRNA- and Cas9-expressing plasmid decreased the mutation rate at the on-target site but did not appreciably change the relative rates of off-target mutations (Tables 2A and 2B). Consistent with this, high-level off-target mutagenesis rates were also observed in two other human cell types (HEK293 and K562 cells) even though the absolute rates of on-target mutagenesis are lower than in U2OS.EGFP cells. Thus, reducing expression levels of gRNA and Cas9 in cells is not likely to provide a solution for reducing off-target effects. Furthermore, these results also suggest that the high rates of off-target mutagenesis observed in human cells are not caused by overexpression of gRNA and/or Cas9.
Table 2A
Indel mutation frequencies at on- and off-target genomic sites induced by different amounts of Cas9- and single gRNA-expressing plasmids for the RGN targeted to VEGFA Target Site 2
SiteSequenceSEQ ID NO:250ng gRNA/750 ng Cas9 Mean indel frequency (%) ± SEM12.5ng gRNA/50 ng Cas9 Mean indel frequency (%) ± SEM
T2 (On-target) GACCCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 12 50.2 ± 4.9 25.4 ± 4.8
OT2-1 GACCCCCCCCACCCCGCCCCCGG 13 14.4 ±3.4 4.2 ± 0.2
OT2-2 GGGCCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 14 20.0 ± 6.2 9.8 ± 1.1
OT2-6 CTACCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 15 8.2 ± 1.4 6.0 ± 0.5
OT2-9 GCCCCCACCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 16 50.7 ± 5.6 16.4 ± 2.1
OT2-15 TACCCCCCACACCCCGCCTCTGG 17 9.7 ± 4.5 2.1 ± 0.0
OT2-17 ACACCCCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 18 14.0 ± 2.8 7.1 ± 0.0
OT2-19 ATTCCCCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 19 17.0 ± 3.3 9.2 ± 0.4
OT2-20 CCCCACCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 20 6.1 ± 1.3 N.D.
OT2-23 CGCCCTCCCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 21 44.4 ± 6.7 35.1 ± 1.8
OT2-24 CTCCCCACCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 22 62.8 ± 5.0 44.1 ± 4.5
OT2-29 TGCCCCTCCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 23 13.8 ± 5.2 5.0 ± 0.2
OT2-34 AGGCCCCCACACCCCGCCTCAGG 24 2.8 ± 1.5 N.D.
Amounts of gRNA- and Cas9-expressing plasmids transfected into U2OS.EGFP cells for these assays are shown at the top of each column. (Note that data for 250 ng gRNA/750 ng Cas9 are the same as those presented in Table 1.) Mean indel frequencies were determined using the T7EI assay from replicate samples as described in Methods. OT = Off-target sites, numbered as in Table 1 and Table B. Mismatches from the on-target site (within the 20 bp region to which the gRNA hybridizes) are highlighted as bold, underlined text. N.D. = none detected
Table 2B
Indel mutation frequencies at on- and off-target genomic sites induced by different amounts of Cas9- and single gRNA-expressing plasmids for the RGN targeted to VEGFA Target Site 3
SiteSequenceSEQ ID NO:250ng gRNA/750 ng Cas9 Mean indel frequency (%) ± SEM12.5ng gRNA/250 ng Cas9 Mean indel frequency (%) ± SEM
T3 (On-target) GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGTGG 25 49.4 ± 3.8 33.0 ± 3.7
OT3-1 GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGAGG 26 7.4 ± 3.4 N.D.
OT3-2 AGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGGGG 27 24.3 ± 9.2 9.8 ± 4.2
OT3-4 GCTGAGTGAGTGTATGCGTGTGG 28 20.9 ± 11.8 4.2 ± 1.2
OT3-9 GGTGAGTGAGTGCGTGCGGGTGG 29 3.2 ± 0.3 N.D.
OT3-17 GTTGAGTGAATGTGTGCGTGAGG 30 2.9 ± 0.2 N.D.
OT3-18 TGTGGGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGAGG 31 13.4 ± 4.2 4.9 ± 0.0
OT3-20 AGAGAGTGAGTGTGTGCATGAGG 32 16.7 ± 3.5 7.9 ± 2.4
Amounts of gRNA- and Cas9-expressing plasmids transfected into U2OS.EGFP cells for these assays are shown at the top of each column. (Note that data for 250 ng gRNA/750 ng Cas9 are the same as those presented in Table 1.) Mean indel frequencies were determined using the T7EI assay from replicate samples as described in Methods . OT = Off-target sites, numbered as in Table 1 and Table B. N.D. = none detected


[0033] The finding that significant off-target mutagenesis can be induced by RGNs in three different human cell types has important implications for broader use of this genome-editing platform. For research applications, the potentially confounding effects of high frequency off-target mutations will need to be considered, particularly for experiments involving either cultured cells or organisms with slow generation times for which the outcrossing of undesired alterations would be challenging. One way to control for such effects might be to utilize multiple RGNs targeted to different DNA sequences to induce the same genomic alteration because off-target effects are not random but instead related to the targeted site. However, for therapeutic applications, these findings clearly indicate that the specificities of RGNs will need to be carefully defined and/or improved if these nucleases are to be used safely in the longer term for treatment of human diseases.

Methods for Improving Specificity



[0034] As shown herein, CRISPR-Cas RNA-guided nucleases based on the S. pyogenes Cas9 protein can have significant off-target mutagenic effects that are comparable to or higher than the intended on-target activity (Example 1). Such off-target effects can be problematic for research and in particular for potential therapeutic applications. Therefore, methods for improving the specificity of CRISPR-Cas RNA guided nucleases (RGNs) are needed.

[0035] As described in Example 1, Cas9 RGNs can induce high-frequency indel mutations at off-target sites in human cells (see also Cradick et al., 2013; Fu et al., 2013; Hsu et al., 2013; Pattanayak et al., 2013). These undesired alterations can occur at genomic sequences that differ by as many as five mismatches from the intended on-target site (see Example 1). In addition, although mismatches at the 5' end of the gRNA complementarity region are generally better tolerated than those at the 3' end, these associations are not absolute and show site-to-site-dependence (see Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013; Hsu et al., 2013; Pattanayak et al., 2013). As a result, computational methods that rely on the number and/or positions of mismatches currently have limited predictive value for identifying bona fide off-target sites. Therefore, methods for reducing the frequencies of off-target mutations remain an important priority if RNA-guided nucleases are to be used for research and therapeutic applications.

Truncated Guide RNAs (tru-gRNAs) Achieve Greater Specificity



[0036] Guide RNAs generally speaking come in two different systems: System 1, which uses separate crRNA and tracrRNAs that function together to guide cleavage by Cas9, and System 2, which uses a chimeric crRNA-tracrRNA hybrid that combines the two separate guide RNAs in a single system (referred to as a single guide RNA or sgRNA, see also Jinek et al., Science 2012; 337:816-821). The tracrRNA can be variably truncated and a range of lengths has been shown to function in both the separate system (system 1) and the chimeric gRNA system (system 2). For example, in some embodiments, tracrRNA may be truncated from its 3' end by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts. In some embodiments, the tracrRNA molecule may be truncated from its 5' end by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts. Alternatively, the tracrRNA molecule may be truncated from both the 5' and 3' end, e.g., by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 or 20 nts on the 5' end and at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts on the 3' end. See, e.g., Jinek et al., Science 2012; 337:816-821; Mali et al., Science. 2013 Feb 15;339(6121):823-6; Cong et al., Science. 2013 Feb 15;339(6121):819-23; and Hwang and Fu et al., Nat Biotechnol. 2013 Mar;31(3):227-9; Jinek et al., Elife 2, e00471 (2013)). For System 2, generally the longer length chimeric gRNAs have shown greater on-target activity but the relative specificities of the various length gRNAs currently remain undefined and therefore it may be desirable in certain instances to use shorter gRNAs. In some embodiments, the gRNAs are complementary to a region that is within about 100-800 bp upstream of the transcription start site, e.g., is within about 500 bp upstream of the transcription start site, includes the transcription start site, or within about 100-800 bp, e.g., within about 500 bp, downstream of the transcription start site. In some embodiments, vectors (e.g., plasmids) encoding more than one gRNA are used, e.g., plasmids encoding, 2, 3, 4, 5, or more gRNAs directed to different sites in the same region of the target gene.

[0037] The present application describes a strategy for improving RGN specificity based on the seemingly counterintuitive idea of shortening, rather than lengthening, the gRNA complementarity region. These shorter gRNAs can induce various types of Cas9-mediated on-target genome editing events with efficiencies comparable to (or, in some cases, higher than) full-length gRNAs at multiple sites in a single integrated EGFP reporter gene and in endogenous human genes. In addition, RGNs using these shortened gRNAs exhibit increased sensitivity to small numbers of mismatches at the gRNA-target DNA interface. Most importantly, use of shortened gRNAs substantially reduces the rates of genomic off-target effects in human cells, yielding improvements of specificity as high as 5000-fold or more at these sites. Thus, this shortened gRNA strategy provides a highly effective approach for reducing off-target effects without compromising on-target activity and without the need for expression of a second, potentially mutagenic gRNA. This approach can be implemented on its own or in conjunction with other strategies such as the paired nickase method to reduce the off-target effects of RGNs in human cells.

[0038] Thus, one method to enhance specificity of CRISPR/Cas nucleases shortens the length of the guide RNA (gRNA) species used to direct nuclease specificity. Cas9 nuclease can be guided to specific 17-18 nt genomic targets bearing an additional proximal protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., of sequence NGG, using a guide RNA, e.g., a single gRNA or a crRNA (paired with a tracrRNA), bearing 17 or 18 nts at its 5' end that are complementary to the complementary strand of the genomic DNA target site (Figure 1).

[0039] Although one might expect that increasing the length of the gRNA complementarity region would improve specificity, the present inventors (Hwang et al., PLoS One. 2013 Jul 9;8(7):e68708) and others (Ran et al., Cell. 2013 Sep 12;154(6):1380-9) have previously observed that lengthening the target site complementarity region at the 5' end of the gRNA actually makes it function less efficiently at the on-target site.

[0040] By contrast, experiments in Example 1 showed that gRNAs bearing multiple mismatches within a standard length 5' complementarity targeting region could still induce robust Cas9-mediated cleavage of their target sites. Thus, it was possible that truncated gRNAs lacking these 5'-end nucleotides might show activities comparable to their full-length counterparts (Fig. 2A). It was further speculated that these 5' nucleotides might normally compensate for mismatches at other positions along the gRNA-target DNA interface and therefore predicted that shorter gRNAs might be more sensitive to mismatches and thus induce lower levels of off-target mutations (Fig. 2A).

[0041] Decreasing the length of the DNA sequence targeted might also decrease the stability of the gRNA:DNA hybrid, making it less tolerant of mismatches and thereby making the targeting more specific. That is, truncating the gRNA sequence to recognize a shorter DNA target might actually result in a RNA-guided nuclease that is less tolerant to even single nucleotide mismatches and is therefore more specific and has fewer unintended off-target effects.

[0042] This strategy for shortening the gRNA complementarity region could potentially be used with RNA guided proteins other than S. pyogenes Cas9 including other Cas proteins from bacteria or archaea as well as Cas9 variants that nick a single strand of DNA or have no-nuclease activity such as a dCas9 bearing catalytic inactivating mutations in one or both nuclease domains. This strategy can be applied to systems that utilize a single gRNA as well as those that use dual gRNAs (e.g., the crRNA and tracrRNA found in naturally occurring systems).

[0043] Thus, described herein is a single guide RNA comprising a crRNA fused to a normally trans-encoded tracrRNA, e.g., a single Cas9 guide RNA as described in Mali et al., Science 2013 Feb 15; 339(6121):823-6, but with a sequence at the 5' end that is complementary to 17 or 18 nts, of the complementary strand to a target sequence immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG. In some embodiments, the shortened Cas9 guide RNA consists of the sequence:

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA (SEQ ID NO:2404);

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407); or

(X17-18)GUUUUTUAGAGCUAUGCU (SEQ ID NO:2408);

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG(XN ) (SEQ ID NO:1);









(X17-18)GUUUUAAGAGCUAUGCUGGAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUUAAAUAAGG CUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:7); wherein X17-18 is the nucleotide sequence complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the target sequence, respectively. Also described herein are DNAs encoding the shortened Cas9 guide RNAs that have been described previously in the literature (Jinek et al., Science. 337(6096):816-21 (2012) and Jinek et al., Elife. 2:e00471 (2013)).



[0044] The guide RNAs can include XN which can be any sequence, wherein N (in the RNA) can be 0-200, e.g., 0-100, 0-50, or 0-20, that does not interfere with the binding of the ribonucleic acid to Cas9.

[0045] In some embodiments, the guide RNA includes one or more Adenine (A) or Uracil (U) nucleotides on the 3' end. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more U, e.g., 1 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription.

[0046] Modified RNA oligonucleotides such as locked nucleic acids (LNAs) have been demonstrated to increase the specificity of RNA-DNA hybridization by locking the modified oligonucleotides in a more favorable (stable) conformation. For example, 2'-O-methyl RNA is a modified base where there is an additional covalent linkage between the 2' oxygen and 4' carbon which when incorporated into oligonucleotides can improve overall thermal stability and selectivity (formula I).



[0047] Thus in some embodiments, the tru-gRNAs disclosed herein may comprise one or more modified RNA oligonucleotides. For example, the truncated guide RNAs molecules described herein can have one, some or all of the 17-18 or 17-19 nts 5' region of the guideRNA complementary to the target sequence are modified, e.g., locked (2'-O-4'-C methylene bridge), 5'-methylcytidine, 2'-O-methyl-pseudouridine, or in which the ribose phosphate backbone has been replaced by a polyamide chain (peptide nucleic acid), e.g., a synthetic ribonucleic acid.

[0048] In other embodiments, one, some or all of the nucleotides of the tru-gRNA sequence may be modified, e.g., locked (2'-O-4'-C methylene bridge), 5'-methylcytidine, 2'-O-methyl-pseudouridine, or in which the ribose phosphate backbone has been replaced by a polyamide chain (peptide nucleic acid), e.g., a synthetic ribonucleic acid.

[0049] In a cellular context, complexes of Cas9 with these synthetic gRNAs could be used to improve the genome-wide specificity of the CRISPR/Cas9 nuclease system.

[0050] Exemplary modified or synthetic tru-gRNAs may comprise, or consist of, the following sequences:

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA(XN) (SEQ ID NO:2404);

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (XN) (SEQ ID NO:2407);

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCU(XN) (SEQ ID NO:2408);

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG(XN ) (SEQ ID NO:1);











wherein X17-18 is a sequence complementary to 17-18 nts of a target sequence, respectively, a target sequence immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG, and further wherein one or more of the nucleotides are locked, e.g., one or more of the nucleotides within the sequence X17-18 or X17-19, one or more of the nucleotides within the sequence XN, or one or more of the nucleotides within any sequence of the tru-gRNA. XN is any sequence, wherein N (in the RNA) can be 0-200, e.g., 0-100, 0-50, or 0-20, that does not interfere with the binding of the ribonucleic acid to Cas9. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more U,

e.g., 1 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription.

[0051] Although some of the examples described herein utilize a single gRNA, the methods can also be used with dual gRNAs (e.g., the crRNA and tracrRNA found in naturally occurring systems). In this case, a single tracrRNA would be used in conjunction with multiple different crRNAs expressed using the present system, e.g., the following: (X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA (SEQ ID NO:2404); (X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407); or (X17-18)GUUUUTUAGAGCUAUGCU (SEQ ID NO:2408); and a tracrRNA sequence. In this case, the crRNA is used as the guide RNA in the methods and molecules described herein, and the tracrRNA can be expressed from the same or a different DNA molecule. In some embodiments, the methods include contacting the cell with a tracrRNA comprising or consisting of the sequence GGAACCAUUCAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:8) or an active portion thereof (an active portion is one that retains the ability to form complexes with Cas9 or dCas9). In some embodiments, the tracrRNA molecule may be truncated from its 3' end by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts. In another embodiment, the tracrRNA molecule may be truncated from its 5' end by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts. Alternatively, the tracrRNA molecule may be truncated from both the 5' and 3' end, e.g., by at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 or 20 nts on the 5' end and at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 nts on the 3' end. Exemplary tracrRNA sequences in addition to SEQ ID NO:8 include the following:

UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCA CCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2405) or an active portion thereof;

AGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGU GGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2407) or an active portion thereof;

CAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGA AAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2409) or an active portion thereof;

UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUG (SEQ ID NO:2410) or an active portion thereof;

UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCA (SEQ ID NO:2411) or an active portion thereof; or UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG (SEQ ID NO:2412) or an active portion thereof



[0052] In some embodiments wherein (X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG (SEQ ID NO:2407) is used as a crRNA, the following tracrRNA is used:
GGAACCAUUCAAAACAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:8) or an active portion thereof In some embodiments wherein (X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUA (SEQ ID NO:2404) is used as a crRNA, the following tracrRNA is used:
UAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCA CCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2405) or an active portion thereof In some embodiments wherein (X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCU (SEQ ID NO:2408) is used as a crRNA, the following tracrRNA is used:
AGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUCAACUUGAAAAAGU GGCACCGAGUCGGUGC (SEQ ID NO:2406) or an active portion thereof

[0053] In addition, in a system that uses separate crRNA and tracrRNA, one or both can be synthetic and include one or more modified (e.g., locked) nucleotides or deoxyribonucleotides.

[0054] In some embodiments, the single guide RNAs and/or crRNAs and/or tracrRNAs can include one or more Adenine (A) or Uracil (U) nucleotides on the 3' end.

[0055] Existing Cas9-based RGNs use gRNA-DNA heteroduplex formation to guide targeting to genomic sites of interest. However, RNA-DNA heteroduplexes can form a more promiscuous range of structures than their DNA-DNA counterparts. In effect, DNA-DNA duplexes are more sensitive to mismatches, suggesting that a DNA-guided nuclease may not bind as readily to off-target sequences, making them comparatively more specific than RNA-guided nucleases. Thus, the truncated guide RNAs described herein can be hybrids, i.e., wherein one or more deoxyribonucleotides, e.g., a short DNA oligonucleotide, replaces all or part of the gRNA, e.g., all or part of the complementarity region of a gRNA. This DNA-based molecule could replace either all or part of the gRNA in a single gRNA system or alternatively might replace all of part of the crRNA in a dual crRNA/tracrRNA system. Such a system that incorporates DNA into the complementarity region should more reliably target the intended genomic DNA sequences due to the general intolerance of DNA-DNA duplexes to mismatching compared to RNA-DNA duplexes. Methods for making such duplexes are known in the art, See, e.g., Barker et al., BMC Genomics. 2005 Apr 22;6:57; and Sugimoto et al., Biochemistry. 2000 Sep 19;39(37):11270-81.

[0056] Exemplary modified or synthetic tru-gRNAs may comprise, or consist of, the following sequences:
(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG(XN ) (SEQ ID NO:1);











wherein X17-18 is a sequence complementary to 17-18 nts of a target sequence, respectively, a target sequence immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), e.g., NGG, NAG, or NNGG, and further wherein one or more of the nucleotides are deoxyribonucleotides, e.g., one or more of the nucleotides within the sequence X17-18 or X17-19, one or more of the nucleotides within the sequence XN, or one or more of the nucleotides within any sequence of the tru-gRNA. XN is any sequence, wherein N (in the RNA) can be 0-200, e.g., 0-100, 0-50, or 0-20, that does not interfere with the binding of the ribonucleic acid to Cas9. In some embodiments the RNA includes one or more U, e.g., 1 to 8 or more Us (e.g., U, UU, UUU, UUUU, UUUUU, UUUUUU, UUUUUUU, UUUUUUUU) at the 3' end of the molecule, as a result of the optional presence of one or more Ts used as a termination signal to terminate RNA PolIII transcription.

[0057] In addition, in a system that uses separate crRNA and tracrRNA, one or both can be synthetic and include one or more deoxyribonucleotides.

[0058] In some embodiments, the single guide RNAs or crRNAs or tracrRNAs includes one or more Adenine (A) or Uracil (U) nucleotides on the 3' end.

[0059] In some embodiments, the gRNA is targeted to a site that is at least three or more mismatches different from any sequence in the rest of the genome in order to minimize off-target effects.

[0060] The methods described can include expressing in a cell, or contacting the cell with, a shortened Cas9 gRNA (tru-gRNA) as described herein (optionally a modified or DNA/RNA hybrid tru-gRNA), plus a nuclease that can be guided by the shortened Cas9 gRNAs, e.g., a Cas9 nuclease, e.g., as described in Mali et al., a Cas9 nickase as described in Jinek et al., 2012; or a dCas9-heterofunctional domain fusion (dCas9-HFD).

Cas9



[0061] A number of bacteria express Cas9 protein variants. The Cas9 from Streptococcus pyogenes is presently the most commonly used; some of the other Cas9 proteins have high levels of sequence identity with the S. pyogenes Cas9 and use the same guide RNAs. Others are more diverse, use different gRNAs, and recognize different PAM sequences as well (the 2-5 nucleotide sequence specified by the protein which is adjacent to the sequence specified by the RNA). Chylinski et al. classified Cas9 proteins from a large group of bacteria (RNA Biology 10:5, 1-12; 2013), and a large number of Cas9 proteins are listed in supplementary figure 1 and supplementary table 1 thereof. Additional Cas9 proteins are described in Esvelt et al., Nat Methods. 2013 Nov; 10(11):1116-21 and Fonfara et al., "Phylogeny of Cas9 determines functional exchangeability of dual-RNA and Cas9 among orthologous type II CRISPR-Cas systems." Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Nov 22. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1074.

[0062] Cas9 molecules of a variety of species can be used in the methods and compositions described herein. While the S. pyogenes and S. thermophilus Cas9 molecules are the subject of much of the disclosure herein, Cas9 molecules of, derived from, or based on the Cas9 proteins of other species listed herein can be used as well. In other words, while the much of the description herein uses S. pyogenes and S. thermophilus Cas9 molecules, Cas9 molecules from the other species can replace them. Such species include those set forth in the following table, which was created based on supplementary figure 1 of Chylinski et al., 2013.
Alternative Cas9 proteins
GenBank Acc No.Bacterium
303229466 Veillonella atypica ACS-134-V-Col7a
34762592 Fusobacterium nucleatum subsp. vincentii
374307738 Filifactor alocis ATCC 35896
320528778 Solobacterium moorei F0204
291520705 Coprococcus catus GD-7
42525843 Treponema denticola ATCC 35405
304438954 Peptoniphilus duerdenii ATCC BAA-1640
224543312 Catenibacterium mitsuokai DSM 15897
24379809 Streptococcus mutans UA159
15675041 Streptococcus pyogenes SF370
16801805 Listeria innocua Clip11262
116628213 Streptococcus thermophilus LMD-9
323463801 Staphylococcus pseudintermedius ED99
352684361 Acidaminococcus intestini RyC-MR95
302336020 Olsenella uli DSM 7084
366983953 Oenococcus kitaharae DSM 17330
310286728 Bifidobacterium bifidum S17
258509199 Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
300361537 Lactobacillus gasseri JV-V03
169823755 Finegoldia magna ATCC 29328
47458868 Mycoplasma mobile 163K
284931710 Mycoplasma gallisepticum str. F
363542550 Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae SC01
384393286 Mycoplasma canis PG 14
71894592 Mycoplasma synoviae 53
238924075 Eubacterium rectale ATCC 33656
116627542 Streptococcus thermophilus LMD-9
315149830 Enterococcus faecalis TX0012
315659848 Staphylococcus lugdunensis M23590
160915782 Eubacterium dolichum DSM 3991
336393381 Lactobacillus coryniformis subsp. torquens
310780384 Ilyobacter polytropus DSM 2926
325677756 Ruminococcus albus 8
187736489 Akkermansia muciniphila ATCC BAA-835
117929158 Acidothermus cellulolyticus 11B
189440764 Bifidobacterium longum DJO10A
283456135 Bifidobacterium dentium Bd1
38232678 Corynebacterium diphtheriae NCTC 13129
187250660 Elusimicrobium minutum Peil91
319957206 Nitratifractor salsuginis DSM 16511
325972003 Sphaerochaeta globus str. Buddy
261414553 Fibrobacter succinogenes subsp. succinogenes
60683389 Bacteroides fragilis NCTC 9343
256819408 Capnocytophaga ochracea DSM 7271
90425961 Rhodopseudomonas palustris BisB18
373501184 Prevotella micans F0438
294674019 Prevotella ruminicola 23
365959402 Flavobacterium columnare ATCC 49512
312879015 Aminomonas paucivorans DSM 12260
83591793 Rhodospirillum rubrum ATCC 11170
294086111 Candidatus Puniceispirillum marinum IMCC1322
121608211 Verminephrobacter eiseniae EF01-2
344171927 Ralstonia syzygii R24
159042956 Dinoroseobacter shibae DFL 12
288957741 Azospirillum sp-B510
92109262 Nitrobacter hamburgensis X14
148255343 Bradyrhizobium sp-BTAil
34557790 Wolinella succinogenes DSM 1740
218563121 Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni
291276265 Helicobacter mustelae 12198
229113166 Bacillus cereus Rockl-15
222109285 Acidovorax ebreus TPSY
189485225 uncultured Termite group 1
182624245 Clostridium perfringens D str.
220930482 Clostridium cellulolyticum H10
154250555 Parvibaculum lavamentivorans DS-1
257413184 Roseburia intestinalis L1-82
218767588 Neisseria meningitidis Z2491
15602992 Pasteurella multocida subsp. multocida
319941583 Sutterella wadsworthensis 3 1
254447899 gamma proteobacterium HTCC5015
54296138 Legionella pneumophila str. Paris
331001027 Parasutterella excrementihominis YIT 11859
34557932 Wolinella succinogenes DSM 1740
118497352 Francisella novicida U112


[0063] The constructs and methods described herein can include the use of any of those Cas9 proteins, and their corresponding guide RNAs or other guide RNAs that are compatible. The Cas9 from Streptococcus thermophilus LMD-9 CRISPR1 system has also been shown to function in human cells in Cong et al (Science 339, 819 (2013)). Cas9 orthologs from N. meningitides are described in Hou et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Sep 24;110(39):15644-9 and Esvelt et al., Nat Methods. 2013 Nov;10(11):1116-21. Additionally, Jinek et al. showed in vitro that Cas9 orthologs from S. thermophilus and L. innocua, (but not from N. meningitidis or C. jejuni, which likely use a different guide RNA), can be guided by a dual S. pyogenes gRNA to cleave target plasmid DNA, albeit with slightly decreased efficiency.

[0064] In some embodiments, the present system utilizes the Cas9 protein from S. pyogenes, either as encoded in bacteria or codon-optimized for expression in mammalian cells, containing mutations at D10, E762, H983, or D986 and H840 or N863, e.g., D10A/D10N and H840A/H840N/H840Y, to render the nuclease portion of the protein catalytically inactive; substitutions at these positions could be alanine (as they are in Nishimasu al., Cell 156, 935-949 (2014)) or they could be other residues, e.g., glutamine, asparagine, tyrosine, serine, or aspartate, e.g.,, E762Q, H983N, H983Y, D986N, N863D, N863S, or N863H (Figure 1C). The sequence of the catalytically inactive S. pyogenes Cas9 that can be used in the methods and compositions described herein is as follows; the exemplary mutations of D10A and H840A are in bold and underlined.





[0065] In some embodiments, the Cas9 nuclease used herein is at least about 50% identical to the sequence of S. pyogenes Cas9, i.e., at least 50% identical to SEQ ID NO:33. In some embodiments, the nucleotide sequences are about 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 99% or 100% identical to SEQ ID NO:33. In some embodiments, any differences from SEQ ID NO:33 are in non-conserved regions, as identified by sequence alignment of sequences set forth in Chylinski et al., RNA Biology 10:5, 1-12; 2013 (e.g., in supplementary figure 1 and supplementary table 1 thereof); Esvelt et al., Nat Methods. 2013 Nov;10(11):1116-21 and Fonfara et al., Nucl. Acids Res. (2014) 42 (4): 2577-2590. [Epub ahead of print 2013 Nov 22] doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1074.

[0066] To determine the percent identity of two sequences, the sequences are aligned for optimal comparison purposes (gaps are introduced in one or both of a first and a second amino acid or nucleic acid sequence as required for optimal alignment, and non-homologous sequences can be disregarded for comparison purposes). The length of a reference sequence aligned for comparison purposes is at least 50% (in some embodiments, about 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 100% of the length of the reference sequence is aligned). The nucleotides or residues at corresponding positions are then compared. When a position in the first sequence is occupied by the same nucleotide or residue as the corresponding position in the second sequence, then the molecules are identical at that position. The percent identity between the two sequences is a function of the number of identical positions shared by the sequences, taking into account the number of gaps, and the length of each gap, which need to be introduced for optimal alignment of the two sequences.

[0067] The comparison of sequences and determination of percent identity between two sequences can be accomplished using a mathematical algorithm. For purposes of the present application, the percent identity between two amino acid sequences is determined using the Needleman and Wunsch ((1970) J. Mol. Biol. 48:444-453) algorithm which has been incorporated into the GAP program in the GCG software package, using a Blossum 62 scoring matrix with a gap penalty of 12, a gap extend penalty of 4, and a frameshift gap penalty of 5.

Cas9-HFD



[0068] Cas9-HFD are described in a U.S. Provisional Patent Applications USSN 61/799,647, Filed on March 15, 2013, USSN 61/838,148, filed on 6/21/2013, and PCT International Application No. PCT/US14/27335.

[0069] The Cas9-HFD are created by fusing a heterologous functional domain (e.g., a transcriptional activation domain, e.g., from VP64 or NF-κB p65), to the N-terminus or C-terminus of a catalytically inactive Cas9 protein (dCas9). In the present case, as noted above, the dCas9 can be from any species but is preferably from S. pyogenes, In some embodiments, the Cas9 contains mutations in the D10 and H840 residues, e.g., D10N/D10A and H840A/H840N/H840Y, to render the nuclease portion of the protein catalytically inactive, e.g., as shown in SEQ ID NO:33 above.

[0070] The transcriptional activation domains can be fused on the N or C terminus of the Cas9. In addition, although the present description exemplifies transcriptional activation domains, other heterologous functional domains (e.g., transcriptional repressors (e.g., KRAB, ERD, SID, and others, e.g., amino acids 473-530 of the ets2 repressor factor (ERF) repressor domain (ERD), amino acids 1-97 of the KRAB domain of KOX1, or amino acids 1-36 of the Mad mSIN3 interaction domain (SID); see Beerli et al., PNAS USA 95:14628-14633 (1998)) or silencers such as Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1, also known as swi6), e.g., HP1α or HP1β; proteins or peptides that could recruit long non-coding RNAs (IncRNAs) fused to a fixed RNA binding sequence such as those bound by the MS2 coat protein, endoribonuclease Csy4, or the lambda N protein; enzymes that modify the methylation state of DNA (e.g., DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) or TET proteins); or enzymes that modify histone subunits (e.g., histone acetyltransferases (HAT), histone deacetylases (HDAC), histone methyltransferases (e.g., for methylation of lysine or arginine residues) or histone demethylases (e.g., for demethylation of lysine or arginine residues)) as are known in the art can also be used. A number of sequences for such domains are known in the art, e.g., a domain that catalyzes hydroxylation of methylated cytosines in DNA. Exemplary proteins include the Ten-Eleven-Translocation (TET)1-3 family, enzymes that converts 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in DNA.

[0071] Sequences for human TET1-3 are known in the art and are shown in the following table:
 GenBank Accession Nos.
GeneAmino AcidNucleic Acid
TET1 NP_085128.2 NM_030625.2
TET2* NP_001120680.1 (var 1) NP_060098.3 (var 2) NM_001127208.2 NM_ 017628.4
TET3 NP_659430.1 NM_144993.1
* Variant (1) represents the longer transcript and encodes the longer isoform (a). Variant (2) differs in the 5' UTR and in the 3' UTR and coding sequence compared to variant 1. The resulting isoform (b) is shorter and has a distinct C-terminus compared to isoform a.


[0072] In some embodiments, all or part of the full-length sequence of the catalytic domain can be included, e.g., a catalytic module comprising the cysteine-rich extension and the 2OGFeDO domain encoded by 7 highly conserved exons, e.g., the Tet1 catalytic domain comprising amino acids 1580-2052, Tet2 comprising amino acids 1290-1905 and Tet3 comprising amino acids 966-1678. See, e.g., Fig. 1 of Iyer et al., Cell Cycle. 2009 Jun 1;8(11):1698-710. Epub 2009 Jun 27, for an alignment illustrating the key catalytic residues in all three Tet proteins, and the supplementary materials thereof (available at ftp site ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/pub/aravind/DONS/supplementary _material_DONS.html) for full length sequences (see, e.g., seq 2c); in some embodiments, the sequence includes amino acids 1418-2136 of Tet1 or the corresponding region in Tet2/3.

[0073] Other catalytic modules can be from the proteins identified in Iyer et al., 2009.

[0074] In some embodiments, the heterologous functional domain is a biological tether, and comprises all or part of (e.g., DNA binding domain from) the MS2 coat protein, endoribonuclease Csy4, or the lambda N protein. These proteins can be used to recruit RNA molecules containing a specific stem-loop structure to a locale specified by the dCas9 gRNA targeting sequences. For example, a dCas9 fused to MS2 coat protein, endoribonuclease Csy4, or lambda N can be used to recruit a long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) such as XIST or HOTAIR; see, e.g., Keryer-Bibens et al., Biol. Cell 100:125-138 (2008), that is linked to the Csy4, MS2 or lambda N binding sequence. Alternatively, the Csy4, MS2 or lambda N protein binding sequence can be linked to another protein, e.g., as described in Keryer-Bibens et al., supra, and the protein can be targeted to the dCas9 binding site using the methods and compositions described herein. In some embodiments, the Csy4 is catalytically inactive.

[0075] In some embodiments, the fusion proteins include a linker between the dCas9 and the heterologous functional domains. Linkers that can be used in these fusion proteins (or between fusion proteins in a concatenated structure) can include any sequence that does not interfere with the function of the fusion proteins. In preferred embodiments, the linkers are short, e.g., 2-20 amino acids, and are typically flexible (i.e., comprising amino acids with a high degree of freedom such as glycine, alanine, and serine). In some embodiments, the linker comprises one or more units consisting of GGGS (SEQ ID NO:34) or GGGGS (SEQ ID NO:35), e.g., two, three, four, or more repeats of the GGGS (SEQ ID NO:34) or GGGGS (SEQ ID NO:35) unit. Other linker sequences can also be used.

Expression Systems



[0076] In order to use the guide RNAs described, it may be desirable to express them from a nucleic acid that encodes them. This can be performed in a variety of ways. For example, the nucleic acid encoding the guide RNA can be cloned into an intermediate vector for transformation into prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells for replication and/or expression. Intermediate vectors are typically prokaryote vectors, e.g., plasmids, or shuttle vectors, or insect vectors, for storage or manipulation of the nucleic acid encoding the guide RNA for production of the guide RNA. The nucleic acid encoding the guide RNA can also be cloned into an expression vector, for administration to a plant cell, animal cell, preferably a mammalian cell or a human cell, fungal cell, bacterial cell, or protozoan cell.

[0077] To obtain expression, a sequence encoding a guide RNA is typically subcloned into an expression vector that contains a promoter to direct transcription. Suitable bacterial and eukaryotic promoters are well known in the art and described, e.g., in Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning, A Laboratory Manual (3d ed. 2001); Kriegler, Gene Transfer and Expression: A Laboratory Manual (1990); and Current Protocols in Molecular Biology (Ausubel et al., eds., 2010). Bacterial expression systems for expressing the engineered protein are available in, e.g., E. coli, Bacillus sp., and Salmonella (Palva et al., 1983, Gene 22:229-235). Kits for such expression systems are commercially available. Eukaryotic expression systems for mammalian cells, yeast, and insect cells are well known in the art and are also commercially available.

[0078] The promoter used to direct expression of a nucleic acid depends on the particular application. For example, a strong constitutive promoter is typically used for expression and purification of fusion proteins. In contrast, when the guide RNA is to be administered in vivo for gene regulation, either a constitutive or an inducible promoter can be used, depending on the particular use of the guide RNA. In addition, a preferred promoter for administration of the guide RNA can be a weak promoter, such as HSV TK or a promoter having similar activity. The promoter can also include elements that are responsive to transactivation, e.g., hypoxia response elements, Gal4 response elements, lac repressor response element, and small molecule control systems such as tetracycline-regulated systems and the RU-486 system (see, e.g., Gossen & Bujard, 1992, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 89:5547; Oligino et al., 1998, Gene Ther., 5:491-496; Wang et al., 1997, Gene Ther., 4:432-441; Neering et al., 1996, Blood, 88:1147-55; and Rendahl et al., 1998, Nat. Biotechnol., 16:757-761).

[0079] In addition to the promoter, the expression vector typically contains a transcription unit or expression cassette that contains all the additional elements required for the expression of the nucleic acid in host cells, either prokaryotic or eukaryotic. A typical expression cassette thus contains a promoter operably linked, e.g., to the nucleic acid sequence encoding the gRNA, and any signals required, e.g., for efficient polyadenylation of the transcript, transcriptional termination, ribosome binding sites, or translation termination. Additional elements of the cassette may include, e.g., enhancers, and heterologous spliced intronic signals.

[0080] The particular expression vector used to transport the genetic information into the cell is selected with regard to the intended use of the gRNA, e.g., expression in plants, animals, bacteria, fungus, protozoa, etc. Standard bacterial expression vectors include plasmids such as pBR322 based plasmids, pSKF, pET23D, and commercially available tag-fusion expression systems such as GST and LacZ.

[0081] Expression vectors containing regulatory elements from eukaryotic viruses are often used in eukaryotic expression vectors, e.g., SV40 vectors, papilloma virus vectors, and vectors derived from Epstein-Barr virus. Other exemplary eukaryotic vectors include pMSG, pAV009/A+, pMTO10/A+, pMAMneo-5, baculovirus pDSVE, and any other vector allowing expression of proteins under the direction of the SV40 early promoter, SV40 late promoter, metallothionein promoter, murine mammary tumor virus promoter, Rous sarcoma virus promoter, polyhedrin promoter, or other promoters shown effective for expression in eukaryotic cells.

[0082] The vectors for expressing the guide RNAs can include RNA Pol III promoters to drive expression of the guide RNAs, e.g., the H1, U6 or 7SK promoters. These human promoters allow for expression of gRNAs in mammalian cells following plasmid transfection. Alternatively, a T7 promoter may be used, e.g., for in vitro transcription, and the RNA can be transcribed in vitro and purified. Vectors suitable for the expression of short RNAs, e.g., siRNAs, shRNAs, or other small RNAs, can be used.

[0083] Some expression systems have markers for selection of stably transfected cell lines such as thymidine kinase, hygromycin B phosphotransferase, and dihydrofolate reductase. High yield expression systems are also suitable, such as using a baculovirus vector in insect cells, with the gRNA encoding sequence under the direction of the polyhedrin promoter or other strong baculovirus promoters.

[0084] The elements that are typically included in expression vectors also include a replicon that functions in E. coli, a gene encoding antibiotic resistance to permit selection of bacteria that harbor recombinant plasmids, and unique restriction sites in nonessential regions of the plasmid to allow insertion of recombinant sequences.

[0085] Standard transfection methods are used to produce bacterial, mammalian, yeast or insect cell lines that express large quantities of protein, which are then purified using standard techniques (see, e.g., Colley et al., 1989, J. Biol. Chem., 264:17619-22; Guide to Protein Purification, in Methods in Enzymology, vol. 182 (Deutscher, ed., 1990)). Transformation of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are performed according to standard techniques (see, e.g., Morrison, 1977, J. Bacteriol. 132:349-351; Clark-Curtiss & Curtiss, Methods in Enzymology 101:347-362 (Wu et al., eds, 1983).

[0086] Any of the known procedures for introducing foreign nucleotide sequences into host cells may be used. These include the use of calcium phosphate transfection, polybrene, protoplast fusion, electroporation, nucleofection, liposomes, microinjection, naked DNA, plasmid vectors, viral vectors, both episomal and integrative, and any of the other well-known methods for introducing cloned genomic DNA, cDNA, synthetic DNA or other foreign genetic material into a host cell (see, e.g., Sambrook et al., supra). It is only necessary that the particular genetic engineering procedure used be capable of successfully introducing at least one gene into the host cell capable of expressing the gRNA.

[0087] The present invention includes the vectors and cells comprising the vectors.

EXAMPLES



[0088] The invention is further described in the following examples, which do not limit the scope of the invention described in the claims. Any examples not falling within the scope of the claims are provided for comparison purposes.

Example 1. Assessing specificity of RNA-guided endonucleases



[0089] CRISPR RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) have rapidly emerged as a facile and efficient platform for genome editing. This example describes the use of a human cell-based reporter assay to characterize off-target cleavage of Cas9-based RGNs.

Materials and Methods



[0090] The following materials and methods were used in Example 1.

Construction of guide RNAs



[0091] DNA oligonucleotides (Table A) harboring variable 20 nt sequences for Cas9 targeting were annealed to generate short double-strand DNA fragments with 4 bp overhangs compatible with ligation into BsmBI-digested plasmid pMLM3636. Cloning of these annealed oligonucleotides generates plasmids encoding a chimeric + 103 single-chain guide RNA with 20 variable 5' nucleotides under expression of a U6 promoter (Hwang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 227-229 (2013); Mali et al., Science 339, 823-826 (2013)). pMLM3636 and the expression plasmid pJDS246 (encoding a codon optimized version of Cas9) used in this study are both available through the non-profit plasmid distribution service Addgene (addgene.org/crispr-cas).













[0092] Sequences of oligonucleotides used to generate expression plasmids encoding single gRNAs/variant single gRNAs targeted to sites in the EGFP reporter gene and single gRNAs targeted to six endogenous human gene targets. #, SEQ ID NO:.

EGFP Activity Assays



[0093] U2OS.EGFP cells harboring a single integrated copy of an EGFP-PEST fusion gene were cultured as previously described (Reyon et al., Nat Biotech 30, 460-465 (2012)). For transfections, 200,000 cells were Nucleofected with the indicated amounts of sgRNA expression plasmid and pJDS246 together with 30 ng of a Td-tomato-encoding plasmid using the SE Cell Line 4D-Nucleofector™ X Kit (Lonza) according to the manufacturer's protocol. Cells were analyzed 2 days post-transfection using a BD LSRII flow cytometer. Transfections for optimizing gRNA/Cas9 plasmid concentration were performed in triplicate and all other transfections were performed in duplicate.

PCR amplification and sequence verification of endogenous human genomic sites



[0094] PCR reactions were performed using Phusion Hot Start II high-fidelity DNA polymerase (NEB) with PCR primers and conditions listed in Table B. Most loci amplified successfully using touchdown PCR (98 °C, 10 s; 72-62 °C, -1 °C/cycle, 15 s; 72 °C, 30 s] 10 cycles, [98 °C, 10 s; 62 °C, 15 s; 72 °C, 30 s]25 cycles). PCR for the remaining targets were performed with 35 cycles at a constant annealing temperature of 68 °C or 72 °C and 3% DMSO or 1M betaine, if necessary. PCR products were analyzed on a QIAXCEL capillary electrophoresis system to verify both size and purity. Validated products were treated with ExoSap-IT (Affymetrix) and sequenced by the Sanger method (MGH DNA Sequencing Core) to verify each target site.































[0095] Sequences and characteristics of genomic on- and off-target sites for six RGNs targeted to endogenous human genes and primers and PCR conditions used to amplify these sites.

Determination of RGN-induced on- and off-target mutation frequencies in human cells



[0096] For U2OS.EGFP and K562 cells, 2 x 105 cells were transfected with 250 ng of gRNA expression plasmid or an empty U6 promoter plasmid (for negative controls), 750 ng of Cas9 expression plasmid, and 30 ng of td-Tomato expression plasmid using the 4D Nucleofector System according to the manufacturer's instructions (Lonza). For HEK293 cells, 1.65 x 105 cells were transfected with 125 ng of gRNA expression plasmid or an empty U6 promoter plasmid (for the negative control), 375 ng of Cas9 expression plasmid, and 30 ng of a td-Tomato expression plasmid using Lipofectamine LTX reagent according to the manufacturer's instructions (Life Technologies). Genomic DNA was harvested from transfected U2OS.EGFP, HEK293, or K562 cells using the QIAamp DNA Blood Mini Kit (QIAGEN), according to the manufacturer's instructions. To generate enough genomic DNA to amplify the off-target candidate sites, DNA from three Nucleofections (for U2OS.EGFP cells), two Nucleofections (for K562 cells), or two Lipofectamine LTX transfections was pooled together before performing T7EI. This was done twice for each condition tested, thereby generating duplicate pools of genomic DNA representing a total of four or six individual transfections. PCR was then performed using these genomic DNAs as templates as described above and purified using Ampure XP beads (Agencourt) according to the manufacturer's instructions. T7EI assays were performed as previously described (Reyon et al., 2012, supra).

DNA sequencing of NHEJ-mediated indel mutations



[0097] Purified PCR products used for the T7EI assay were cloned into Zero Blunt TOPO vector (Life Technologies) and plasmid DNAs were isolated using an alkaline lysis miniprep method by the MGH DNA Automation Core. Plasmids were sequenced using an M13 forward primer (5' - GTAAAACGACGGCCAG - 3' (SEQ ID NO:1059) by the Sanger method (MGH DNA Sequencing Core).

Example 1a. Single Nucleotide Mismatches



[0098] To begin to define the specificity determinants of RGNs in human cells, a large-scale test was performed to assess the effects of systematically mismatching various positions within multiple gRNA/target DNA interfaces. To do this, a quantitative human cell-based enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) disruption assay previously described (see Methods above and Reyon et al., 2012, supra) that enables rapid quantitation of targeted nuclease activities (Fig. 2B) was used. In this assay, the activities of nucleases targeted to a single integrated EGFP reporter gene can be quantified by assessing loss of fluorescence signal in human U2OS.EGFP cells caused by inactivating frameshift insertion/deletion (indel) mutations introduced by error prone non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair of nuclease-induced double-stranded breaks (DSBs) (Fig. 2B). For the studies described here, three ∼100 nt single gRNAs targeted to different sequences within EGFP were used, as follows:
EGFP Site 1 GGGCACGGGCAGCTTGCCGGTGG (SEQ ID NO:9)
EGFP Site 2 GATGCCGTTCTTCTGCTTGTCGG (SEQ ID NO:10)
EGFP Site 3 GGTGGTGCAGATGAACTTCAGGG (SEQ ID NO:11)


[0099] Each of these gRNAs can efficiently direct Cas9-mediated disruption of EGFP expression (see Example le and 2a, and FIGs. 3E (top) and 3F (top)).

[0100] In initial experiments, the effects of single nucleotide mismatches at 19 of 20 nucleotides in the complementary targeting region of three EGFP-targeted gRNAs were tested. To do this, variant gRNAs were generated for each of the three target sites harboring Watson-Crick transversion mismatches at positions 1 through 19 (numbered 1 to 20 in the 3' to 5' direction; see Fig. 1) and the abilities of these various gRNAs to direct Cas9-mediated EGFP disruption in human cells tested (variant gRNAs bearing a substitution at position 20 were not generated because this nucleotide is part of the U6 promoter sequence and therefore must remain a guanine to avoid affecting expression.)

[0101] For EGFP target site #2, single mismatches in positions 1 - 10 of the gRNA have dramatic effects on associated Cas9 activity (Fig. 2C, middle panel), consistent with previous studies that suggest mismatches at the 5' end of gRNAs are better tolerated than those at the 3' end (Jiang et al., Nat Biotechnol 31, 233-239 (2013); Cong et al., Science 339, 819-823 (2013); Jinek et al., Science 337, 816-821 (2012)). However, with EGFP target sites #1 and #3, single mismatches at all but a few positions in the gRNA appear to be well tolerated, even within the 3' end of the sequence. Furthermore, the specific positions that were sensitive to mismatch differed for these two targets (Fig. 2C, compare top and bottom panels) - for example, target site #1 was particularly sensitive to a mismatch at position 2 whereas target site #3 was most sensitive to mismatches at positions 1 and 8.

Example 1b. Multiple Mismatches



[0102] To test the effects of more than one mismatch at the gRNA/DNA interface, a series of variant gRNAs bearing double Watson-Crick transversion mismatches in adjacent and separated positions were created and the abilities of these gRNAs to direct Cas9 nuclease activity were tested in human cells using the EGFP disruption assay. All three target sites generally showed greater sensitivity to double alterations in which one or both mismatches occur within the 3' half of the gRNA targeting region. However, the magnitude of these effects exhibited site-specific variation, with target site #2 showing the greatest sensitivity to these double mismatches and target site #1 generally showing the least. To test the number of adjacent mismatches that can be tolerated, variant gRNAs were constructed bearing increasing numbers of mismatched positions ranging from positions 19 to 15 in the 5' end of the gRNA targeting region (where single and double mismatches appeared to be better tolerated).

[0103] Testing of these increasingly mismatched gRNAs revealed that for all three target sites, the introduction of three or more adjacent mismatches results in significant loss of RGN activity. A sudden drop off in activity occurred for three different EGFP-targeted gRNAs as one makes progressive mismatches starting from position 19 in the 5' end and adding more mismatches moving toward the 3' end. Specifically, gRNAs containing mismatches at positions 19 and 19+18 show essentially full activity whereas those with mismatches at positions 19+18+17, 19+18+17+16, and 19+18+17+16+15 show essentially no difference relative to a negative control (Figure 2F). (Note that we did not mismatch position 20 in these variant gRNAs because this position needs to remain as a G because it is part of the U6 promoter that drives expression of the gRNA.)

[0104] Additional proof of that shortening gRNA complementarity might lead to RGNs with greater specificities was obtained in the following experiment: for four different EGFP-targeted gRNAs (Figure 2H), introduction of a double mismatch at positions 18 and 19 did not significantly impact activity. However, introduction of another double mismatch at positions 10 and 11 then into these gRNAs results in near complete loss of activity. Interestingly introduction of only the 10/11 double mismatches does not generally have as great an impact on activity.

[0105] Taken together, these results in human cells confirm that the activities of RGNs can be more sensitive to mismatches in the 3' half of the gRNA targeting sequence. However, the data also clearly reveal that the specificity of RGNs is complex and target site-dependent, with single and double mismatches often well tolerated even when one or more mismatches occur in the 3' half of the gRNA targeting region. Furthermore, these data also suggest that not all mismatches in the 5' half of the gRNA/DNA interface are necessarily well tolerated.

[0106] In addition, these results strongly suggest that gRNAs bearing shorter regions of complementarity (specifically ∼17 nts) will be more specific in their activities. We note that 17 nts of specificity combined with the 2 nts of specificity conferred by the PAM sequence results in specification of a 19 bp sequence, one of sufficient length to be unique in large complex genomes such as those found in human cells.

Example 1c. Off-Target Mutations



[0107] To determine whether off-target mutations for RGNs targeted to endogenous human genes could be identified, six single gRNAs that target three different sites in the VEGFA gene, one in the EMX1 gene, one in the RNF2 gene, and one in the FANCF gene were used (Table 1 and Table A). These six gRNAs efficiently directed Cas9-mediated indels at their respective endogenous loci in human U2OS.EGFP cells as detected by T7 Endonuclease I (T7EI) assay (Methods above and Table 1). For each of these six RGNs, we then examined dozens of potential off-target sites (ranging in number from 46 to as many as 64) for evidence of nuclease-induced NHEJ-mediated indel mutations in U2OS.EGFP cells. The loci assessed included all genomic sites that differ by one or two nucleotides as well as subsets of genomic sites that differ by three to six nucleotides and with a bias toward those that had one or more of these mismatches in the 5' half of the gRNA targeting sequence (Table B). Using the T7EI assay, four off-target sites (out of 53 candidate sites examined) for VEGFA site 1, twelve (out of 46 examined) for VEGFA site 2, seven (out of 64 examined) for VEGFA site 3 and one (out of 46 examined) for the EMX1 site (Table 1 and Table B) were readily identified. No off-target mutations were detected among the 43 and 50 potential sites examined for the RNF2 or FANCF genes, respectively (Table B). The rates of mutation at verified off-target sites were very high, ranging from 5.6% to 125% (mean of 40%) of the rate observed at the intended target site (Table 1). These bona fide off-targets included sequences with mismatches in the 3' end of the target site and with as many as a total of five mismatches, with most off-target sites occurring within protein coding genes (Table 1). DNA sequencing of a subset of off-target sites provided additional molecular confirmation that indel mutations occur at the expected RGN cleavage site (Figs. 8A-C).
Table 1 On- and off-target mutations induced by RGNs designed to endogenous human genes
TargetSite nameSequenceSEQ ID NO:Indel Mutation Frequency (%) ± SEMGene
U2OS.EGFPHEK293K562
Target 1 (VEGFA Site 1) T1 GGGTGGGGGGAGTTTGCTCCTGG 1059. 26.0 ± 2.9 10.5 ± 0.07 3.33 ± 0.42 VEGFA
OT1-3 GGATGGAGGGAGTTTGCTCCTGG 1060. 25.7 + 9.1 18.9 ± 0.77 2.93 + 0.04 IGDCC3
OT1-4 GGGAGGGTGGAGTTTGCTCCTGG 1061. 9.2 ± 0.8 8.32 + 0.51 N.D. LOC11 6437
OT1-6 CGGGGGAGGGAGTTTGCTCCTGG 1062. 5.3 ± 0.2 3.67 + 0.09 N.D. CACNA2 D
OT1-11 GGGGAGGGGAAGTTTGCTCCTGG 1063. 17.1 + 4.7 8.54 ± 0.16 N.D.  
Target 2 (VEGFA Site 2) T2 GACCCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 1064. 50.2 ± 4.9 38.6 ± 1.92 15.0 ± 0.25 VEGFA
OT2-1 GACCCCCCCCACCCCGCCCCCGG 1065. 14.4+3.4 33.6 ± 1.17 4.10 ± 0.05 FMN1
OT2-2 GGGCCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 1066. 20.0 + 6.2 15.6 ± 0.30 3.00 ± 0.06 PAX6
OT2-6 CTACCCCTCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 1067. 8.2 ± 1.4 15.0 + 0.64 5.24 ± 0.22 PAPD7
OT2-9 GCCCCCACCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 1068. 50.7 ± 5.6 30.7 ± 1.44 7.05 ± 0.48 LAMA3
OT2-15 TACCCCCCACACCCCGCCTCTGG 1069. 9.7 ± 4.5 6.97 ± 0.10 1.34 ± 0.15 SPNS3
OT2-17 ACACCCCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 1070. 14.0 ± 2.8 12.3 + 0.45 1.80 ± 0.03  
OT2-19 ATTCCCCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 1071. 17.0 ± 3.3 19.4 + 1.35 N.D. HDLBP
OT2-20 CCCCACCCCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 1072. 6.1 ± 1.3 N.D. N.D. ABLIM1
OT2-23 CGCCCTCCCCACCCCGCCTCCGG 1073. 44.4 ± 6.7 28.7 ± 1.15 4.18 + 0.37 CALY
OT2-24 CTCCCCACCCACCCCGCCTCAGG 1074. 62.8 ± 5.0 29.8 ± 1.08 21.1 ± 1.68  
OT2-29 TGCCCCTCCCACCCCGCCTCTGG 1075. 13.8 ± 5.2 N.D. N.D. ACLY
OT2-34 AGGCCCCCACACCCCGCCTCAGG 1076. 2.8 ± 1.5 N.D. N.D.  
Target 3 (VEGFA Site 3) T3 GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGTGG 1077 . 49.4 ± 3.8 35.7 ± 1.26 27.9 ± 0.52 VEGFA
OT3-1 GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGAGG 1078. 7.4 ± 3.4 8.97 ± 0.80 N.D. (abParts)
OT3-2 AGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGGGG 1079. 24.3 ± 9.2 23.9 ± 0.08 8.9 ± 0.16 MAX
OT3-4 GCTGAGTGAGTGTATGCGTGTGG 1080. 20.9 ± 11.8 11.2 + 0.23 N.D.  
OT3-9 GGTGAGTGAGTGCGTGCGGGTGG 1081. 3.2 ± 0.3 2.34 + 0.21 N.D. TPCN2
OT3-17 GTTGAGTGAATGTGTGCGTGAGG 1082. 2.9 ± 0.2 1.27 ± 0.02 N.D. SLIT1
OT3-18 TGTGGGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGAGG 1083. 13.4 ± 4.2 12.1 + 0.24 2.42 + 0.07 COMDA
OT3-20 AGAGAGTGAGTGTGTGCATGAGG 1084. 16.7 ± 3.5 7.64 + 0.05 1.18 + 0.01  
Target 4 (EMX1) T4 GAGTCCGAGCAGAAGAAGAAGGG 1085. 42.1 ± 0.4 26.0 ± 0.70 10.7 ± 0.50 EMX1
OT4-1 GAGTTAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAAGG 1086. 16.8 ± 0.2 8.43 ± 1.32 2.54 ± 0.02 HCNI
Target 5 (RNF2) T5 GTCATCTTAGTCATTACCTGTGG 1087. 26.6 ± 6.0 --- --- RNF2
Target 6 (FANCF) T6 GGAATCCCTTCTGCAGCACCAGG 1088. 33.2 ± 6.5 --- --- FANCF
"OT" indicates off-target sites (with numbering of sites as in Table E). Mismatches from the on-target (within the 20 bp region to which the gRNA hybridizes) are highlighted as bold, underlined text. Mean indel mutation frequencies in U2OS.EGFP, HEK293, and K562 cells were determined as described in Methods. Genes in which sites were located (if any) are shown. All sites listed failed to show any evidence of modification in cells transfected with Cas9 expression plasmid and a control U6 promoter plasmid that did not express a functional gRNA. N.D. = none detected; --- = not tested.

Example 1d. Off-Target Mutations in Other Cell Types



[0108] Having established that RGNs can induce off-target mutations with high frequencies in U2OS.EGFP cells, we next sought to determine whether these nucleases would also have these effects in other types of human cells. We had chosen U2OS.EGFP cells for our initial experiments because we previously used these cells to evaluate the activities of TALENs15 but human HEK293 and K562 cells have been more widely used to test the activities of targeted nucleases. Therefore, we also assessed the activities of the four RGNs targeted to VEGFA sites 1, 2, and 3 and the EMX1 site in HEK293 and K562 cells. We found that each of these four RGNs efficiently induced NHEJ-mediated indel mutations at their intended on-target site in these two additional human cell lines (as assessed by T7EI assay) (Table 1), albeit with somewhat lower mutation frequencies than those observed in U2OS.EGFP cells. Assessment of the 24 off-target sites for these four RGNs originally identified in U2OS.EGFP cells revealed that many were again mutated in HEK293 and K562 cells with frequencies similar to those at their corresponding on-target site (Table 1). As expected, DNA sequencing of a subset of these off-target sites from HEK293 cells provided additional molecular evidence that alterations are occurring at the expected genomic loci (Figs. 9A-C). We do not know for certain why in HEK293 cells four and in K562 cells eleven of the off-target sites identified in U2OS.EGFP cells did not show detectable mutations. However, we note that many of these off-target sites also showed relatively lower mutation frequencies in U2OS.EGFP cells. Therefore, we speculate that mutation rates of these sites in HEK293 and K562 cells may be falling below the reliable detection limit of our T7EI assay (∼2-5%) because RGNs generally appear to have lower activities in HEK293 and K562 cells compared with U2OS.EGFP cells in our experiments. Taken together, our results in HEK293 and K562 cells provide evidence that the high-frequency off-target mutations we observe with RGNs will be a general phenomenon seen in multiple human cell types.

Example 1e. Titration of gRNA- and Cas9-expressing plasmid amounts used for the EGFP disruption assay



[0109] Single gRNAs were generated for three different sequences (EGFP SITES 1-3, shown above) located upstream of EGFP nucleotide 502, a position at which the introduction of frameshift mutations via non-homologous end-joining can robustly disrupt expression of EGFP (Maeder, M.L. et al., Mol Cell 31, 294-301 (2008); Reyon, D. et al., Nat Biotech 30, 460-465 (2012)).

[0110] For each of the three target sites, a range of gRNA-expressing plasmid amounts (12.5 to 250 ng) was initially transfected together with 750 ng of a plasmid expressing a codon-optimized version of the Cas9 nuclease into our U2OS.EGFP reporter cells bearing a single copy, constitutively expressed EGFP-PEST reporter gene. All three RGNs efficiently disrupted EGFP expression at the highest concentration of gRNA-encoding plasmid (250 ng) (Fig. 3E (top)). However, RGNs for target sites #1 and #3 exhibited equivalent levels of disruption when lower amounts of gRNA-expressing plasmid were transfected whereas RGN activity at target site #2 dropped immediately when the amount of gRNA-expressing plasmid transfected was decreased (Fig. 3E(top)).

[0111] The amount of Cas9-encoding plasmid (range from 50 ng to 750 ng) transfected into our U2OS.EGFP reporter cells was titrated and EGFP disruption assayed. As shown in Fig. 3F (top), target site #1 tolerated a three-fold decrease in the amount of Cas9-encoding plasmid transfected without substantial loss of EGFP disruption activity. However, the activities of RGNs targeting target sites #2 and #3 decreased immediately with a three-fold reduction in the amount of Cas9 plasmid transfected (Fig. 3F (top)). Based on these results, 25ng/250ng, 250ng/750ng, and 200ng/750ng of gRNA-/Cas9-expressing plasmids were used for EGFP target sites #1, #2, and #3, respectively, for the experiments described in Examples 1a-1d.

[0112] The reasons why some gRNA/Cas9 combinations work better than others in disrupting EGFP expression is not understood, nor is why some of these combinations are more or less sensitive to the amount of plasmids used for transfection. Although it is possible that the range of off-target sites present in the genome for these three gRNAs might influence each of their activities, no differences were seen in the numbers of genomic sites that differ by one to six bps for each of these particular target sites (Table C) that would account for the differential behavior of the three gRNAs.
Table C
Numbers of off-target sites in the human genome for six RGNs targeted to endogenous human genes and three RGNs targeted to the EGFP reporter gene
Target SiteNumber of mismatches to on-target site
0123456
Target 1 (VEGFA Site 1) 1 1 4 32 280 2175 13873
Target 2 (VEGFA Site 2) 1 0 2 35 443 3889 17398
Target 3 (VEGFA Site 3) 1 1 17 377 6028 13398 35517
Target 4 (EMX) 1 0 1 18 276 2309 15731
Target 5 (RNF2) 1 0 0 6 116 976 7443
Target 6 (FANCF) 1 0 1 18 271 1467 9551
EGFP Target Site #1 0 0 3 10 156 1365 9755
EGFP Target Site #2 0 0 0 11 96 974 7353
EGFP Target Site #3 0 0 1 14 165 1439 10361


[0113] Off-target sites for each of the six RGNs targeted to the VEGFA, RNF2, FANCF, and EMX1 genes and the three RGNs targeted to EGFP Target Sites #1, #2 and #3 were identified in human genome sequence build GRCh37. Mismatches were only allowed for the 20 nt region to which the gRNA anneals and not to the PAM sequence.

Example 2: Shortening gRNA complementarity length to improve RGN cleavage specificity



[0114] It was hypothesized that off-target effects of RGNs might be minimized without compromising on-target activity simply by decreasing the length of the gRNA-DNA interface, an approach that at first might seem counterintuitive. Longer gRNAs can actually function less efficiently at the on-target site (see below and Hwang et al., 2013a; Ran et al., 2013). In contrast, as shown above in Example 1, gRNAs bearing multiple mismatches at their 5' ends could still induce robust cleavage of their target sites (Figures 2A and 2C-2F), suggesting that these nucleotides might not be required for full on-target activity. Therefore, it was hypothesized that truncated gRNAs lacking these 5' nucleotides might show activities comparable to full-length gRNAs (Figure 2A). It was speculated that if the 5' nucleotides of full-length gRNAs are not needed for on-target activity then their presence might also compensate for mismatches at other positions along the gRNA-target DNA interface. If this were true, it was hypothesized that gRNAs might have greater sensitivity to mismatches and thus might also induce substantially lower levels of Cas9-mediated off-target mutations (Figure 2A).

Experimental Procedures



[0115] The following experimental procedures were used in Example 2.

Plasmid construction



[0116] All gRNA expression plasmids were assembled by designing, synthesizing, annealing, and cloning pairs of oligonucleotides (IDT) harboring the complementarity region into plasmid pMLM3636 (available from Addgene) as described above (Example 1). The resulting gRNA expression vectors encode a ∼100 nt gRNA whose expression is driven by a human U6 promoter. The sequences of all oligonucleotides used to construct gRNA expression vectors are shown in Table D. The Cas9 D10A nickase expression plasmid (pJDS271) bearing a mutation in the RuvC endonuclease domain was generated by mutating plasmid pJDS246 using a QuikChange kit (Agilent Technologies) with the following primers: Cas9 D10A sense primer 5'-tggataaaaagtattctattggtttagccatcggcactaattccg-3' (SEQ ID NO: 1089); Cas9 D10A antisense primer 5'-cggaattagtgccgatggctaaaccaatagaatactttttatcca-3' (SEQ ID NO:1090). All the targeted gRNA plasmids and the Cas9 nickase plasmids used in this study are available through the non-profit plasmid distribution service Addgene (addgene.org/crispr-cas).










Human cell-based EGFP disruption assay



[0117] U2OS.EGFP cells harboring a single-copy, integrated EGFP-PEST gene reporter have been previously described (Reyon et al., 2012). These cells were maintained in Advanced DMEM (Life Technologies) supplemented with 10% FBS, 2 mM GlutaMax (Life Technologies), penicillin/streptomycin and 400 µg/ml G418. To assay for disruption of EGFP expression, 2 x 105 U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected in duplicate with gRNA expression plasmid or an empty U6 promoter plasmid as a negative control, Cas9 expression plasmid (pJDS246) (Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013), and 10 ng of td-Tomato expression plasmid (to control for transfection efficiency) using a LONZA 4D-Nucleofector™, with SE solution and DN100 program according to the manufacturer's instructions. We used 25 ng/250 ng, 250 ng/750 ng, 200 ng/750 ng, and 250 ng/750 ng of gRNA expression plasmid/Cas9 expression plasmid for experiments with EGFP site #1, #2, #3, and #4, respectively. Two days following transfection, cells were trypsinized and resuspended in Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM, Invitrogen) supplemented with 10% (vol/vol) fetal bovine serum (FBS) and analyzed on a BD LSRII flow cytometer. For each sample, transfections and flow cytometry measurements were performed in duplicate.

Transfection of human cells and isolation of genomic DNA



[0118] To assess the on-target and off-target indel mutations induced by RGNs targeted to endogenous human genes, plasmids were transfected into U2OS.EGFP or HEK293 cells using the following conditions: U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected using the same conditions as for the EGFP disruption assay described above. HEK293 cells were transfected by seeding them at a density of 1.65 × 105 cells per well in 24 well plates in Advanced DMEM (Life Technologies) supplemented with 10% FBS and 2 mM GlutaMax (Life Technologies) at 37°C in a CO2 incubator. After 22 - 24 hours of incubation, cells were transfected with 125 ng of gRNA expression plasmid or an empty U6 promoter plasmid (as a negative control), 375 ng of Cas9 expression plasmid (pJDS246) (Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013), and 10 ng of a td-Tomato expression plasmid, using Lipofectamine LTX reagent according to the manufacturer's instructions (Life Technologies). Medium was changed 16 hours after transfection. For both types of cells, genomic DNA was harvested two days post-transfection using an Agencourt DNAdvance genomic DNA isolation kit (Beckman) according to the manufacturer's instructions. For each RGN sample to be assayed, 12 individual 4D transfection replicates were performed, genomic DNA was isolated from each of these 12 transfections, and then these samples were combined to create two "duplicate" pools each consisting of six pooled genomic DNA samples. Indel mutations were then assessed at on-target and off-target sites from these duplicate samples by T7EI assay, Sanger sequencing, and/or deep sequencing as described below.

[0119] To assess frequencies of precise alterations introduced by HDR with ssODN donor templates, 2×105 U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected 250 ng of gRNA expression plasmid or an empty U6 promoter plasmid (as a negative control), 750 ng Cas9 expression plasmid (pJDS246), 50 pmol of ssODN donor (or no ssODN for controls), and 10 ng of td-Tomato expression plasmid (as the transfection control). Genomic DNA was purified three days after transfection using Agencourt DNAdvance and assayed for the introduction of a BamHI site at the locus of interest as described below. All of these transfections were performed in duplicate.

[0120] For experiments involving Cas9 nickases, 2 x 105 U2OS.EGFP cells were transfected with 125 ng of each gRNA expression plasmid (if using paired gRNAs) or 250 ng of gRNA expression plasmid (if using a single gRNA), 750 ng of Cas9-D10A nickase expression plasmid (pJDS271), 10 ng of td-Tomato plasmid, and (if performing HDR) 50 pmol of ssODN donor template (encoding the BamHI site). All transfections were performed in duplicate. Genomic DNA harvested two days after transfection (if assaying for indel mutations) or three days after transfection (if assaying for HDR/ssODN-mediated alterations) using the Agencourt DNAdvance genomic DNA isolation kit (Beckman).

T7EI assays for quantifying frequencies of indel mutations



[0121] T7EI assays were performed as previously described (Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013). In brief, PCR reactions to amplify specific on-target or off-target sites were performed with Phusion high-fidelity DNA polymerase (New England Biolabs) using one of the two following programs: (1) Touchdown PCR program [(98°C, 10 s; 72-62°C, -1 °C/cycle, 15 s; 72°C, 30 s) x 10 cycles, (98°C, 10 s; 62°C, 15 s; 72°C, 30 s) x 25 cycles] or (2) Constant Tm PCR program [(98°C, 10 s; 68°C or 72°C, 15 s; 72°C, 30 s) x 35 cycles], with 3% DMSO or 1 M betaine if necessary. All primers used for these amplifications are listed in Table E. Resulting PCR products ranged in size from 300 to 800 bps and were purified by Ampure XP beads (Agencourt) according to the manufacturer's instructions. 200ng of purified PCR products were hybridized in 1 x NEB buffer 2 in a total volume of 19 µ1 and denatured to form heteroduplexes using the following conditions: 95 °C, 5 minutes; 95 to 85 °C, -2 °C/s; 85 to 25 °C, -0.1 °C/s; hold at 4 °C. 1 µl of T7 Endonuclease I (New England Biolabs, 10 units/µl) was added to the hybridized PCR products and incubated at 37°C for 15 minutes. The T7EI reaction was stopped by adding 2 µl of 0.25 M EDTA solution and the reaction products were purified using AMPure XP beads (Agencourt) with elution in 20 µl 0.1xEB buffer (QIAgen). Reactions products were then analyzed on a QIAXCEL capillary electrophoresis system and the frequencies of indel mutations were calculated using the same formula as previously described (Reyon et al., 2012).
TABLE E
Publication IDExpected Off-Target sequences (Expected) - HS GRCh37SEQ ID NO:Mismatches in target compared to on-target siteActual Target in U2OS.EGFP cellsForward PCR PrimerSEQ ID NO:Reverse PCR PrimerSEQ ID NO:PCR ConditionsWats on-Crick Transver sionsnon-Watson-Crick Trans -versionsTransitions
 
Target 1

 
1269. 0  

 
1270.

 
1271. DMSO      
OT1-1

 
1272. 1  

 
1273.

 
1274 . No DMSO 0 0 1
OT1-2

 
1275. 2  

 
1276.

 
1277. DMSO 2 0 0
OT1-3

 
1278. 2  

 
1279.

 
1280. DMSO 0 0 2
OT1-4

 
1281. 2  

 
1282.

 
1283. DMSO 1 1 0
OT1-5

 
1284. 2  

 
1285.

 
1286. DMSO 0 2 0
OT1-6

 
1287. 3  

 
1288.

 
1289. DMSO 1 1 1
OT1-7

 
1290. 3  

 
1291.

 
1292 . DMSO 0 2 1
OT1-8

 
1293. 3  

 
1294.

 
1295. DMSO 1 0 2
OT1-9

 
1296. 3  

 
1297.

 
1298. DMSO 2 1 0
OT1-10

 
1299. 3  

 
1300.

 
1301. DMSO 1 1 1
OT1-11

 
1302. 3  

 
1303.

 
1304. DMSO 0 1 2
OT1-12

 
1305. 3  

 
1306.

 
1307. DMSO 1 2 0
OT1-13

 
1308. 3  

 
1309.

 
1310. 72C Annea l, 3% DMSO 1 2 0
OT1-14

 
1311. 3  

 
1312.

 
1313. 72C Annea l, 3% DMSO 2 1 0
OT1-15

 
1314. 3  

 
1315.

 
1316. DMSO 1 0 2
OT1-16

 
1317. 3  

 
1318.

 
1319. DMSO 0 1 2
OT1-17

 
1320. 3  

 
1321.

 
1322. DMSO 0 3 0
OT1-18

 
1323. 4  

 
1324.

 
1325. DMSO 0 1 3
OT1-19

 
1326. 4  

 
1327.

 
1328. DMSO 0 2 2
OT1-20

 
1329. 4  

 
1330.

 
1331. DMSO 0 2 2
OT1-21

 
1332. 4  

 
1333.

 
1334. DMSO 1 1 2
OT1-22

 
1335. 4  

 
1336.

 
1337 . No DMSOTD 1 1 2
OT1-23

 
1338. 4  

 
1339.

 
1340. DMSO 0 1 3
OT1-24

 
1341. 4  

 
1342.

 
1343. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO, 6% DMSO 0 3 1
OT1-25

 
1344. 4  

 
1345.

 
1346. DMSO 0 1 3
OT1-26

 
1347. 4

 


 
1348.

 
1349. DMSO 0 / 1 2 2


 
OT1-27

 
1350. 4  

 
1351.

 
1352. DMSO 3 1 0
OT1-28

 
1353. 4  

 
1354.

 
1355. DMSO 0 3 1
OT1-29

 
1356. 4  

 
1357.

 
1358. DMSO 0 3 1
OT1-30

 
1359. 4  

 
1360.

 
1361. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 0 1 3
OT1-31

 
1362. 4  

 
1363.

 
1364. DMSO 3 1 0
OT1-32

 
1365. 4  

 
1366.

 
1367. DMSO 1 2 1
OT1-33

 
1368. 4  

 
1369.

 
1370. DMSO 0 3 1
OT1-34

 
1371. 4  

 
1372 .

 
1373. No DMSO 1 3 0
OT1-35

 
1374. 5  

 
1375.

 
1376. DMSO 0 0 5
OT1-36

 
1377. 5   Not optimized         1 1 3
OT1-37

 
1378. 5  

 
1379.

 
1380. DMSO 1 3 1
OT1-38

 
1381. 5  

 
1382.

 
1383. DMSO 3 2 0
OT1-39

 
1384. 5   Not optimized         1 3 1
OT1-40

 
1385. 5  

 
1386.

 
1387. DMSO 2 3 0
OT1-41

 
1388. 5  

 
1389.

 
1390. 1M betai ne, TD 1 4 0
OT1-42

 
1391. 5  

 
1392.

 
1393. DMSO 1 3 1
OT1-43

 
1394. 5  

 
1395.

 
1396. DMSO 3 2 0
OT1-44

 
1397. 5  

 
1398.

 
1399. DMSO 3 1 1
OT1-45

 
1400. 5  

 
1401.

 
1402. DMSO 1 3 1
OT1-46

 
1403. 6  

 
1404.

 
1405. DMSO 3 1 2
OT1-47

 
1406. 6  

 
1407.

 
1408. DMSO 2 1 3
OT1-48

 
1409. 6  

 
1410.

 
1411. DMSO 1 0 5
OT1-49

 
1412. 6  

 
1413.

 
1414. DMSO 2 0 4
OT1-50

 
1415. 6  

 
1416.

 
1417. DMSO 2 0 4
OT1-51

 
1418. 6  

 
1419.

 
1420. No DMSOTD 3 1 2
OT1-52

 
1421. 6  

 
1422.

 
1423. DMSO 3 2 1
OT1-53

 
1424. 6  

 
1425.

 
1426. DMSO 1 3 2
OT1-54

 
1427 . 6  

 
1428.

 
1429. DMSO 2 3 1
OT1-55

 
1430. 6  

 
1431.

 
1432. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 4 2 0
    1433.       1434.   1435.        
Target 2

 
1436. 0  

 
1437.

 
1438. DMSO      
OT2-1

 
1439. 2  

 
1440.

 
1441. DMSO 0 0 2
OT2-2

 
1442. 2  

 
1443.

 
1444. DMSO 1 0 1
OT2-3

 
1445. 3  

 
1446.

 
1447. DMSO 1 1 1
OT2-4

 
1448. 3  

 
1449.

 
1450. DMSO 1 2 0
OT2-5

 
1451. 3  

 
1452.

 
1453. DMSO 1 1 1
OT2-6

 
1454. 3  

 
1455.

 
1456. DMSO 2 1 0
OT2-7

 
1457. 3  

 
1458.

 
1459. 1M betaine, TD 1 0 2
OT2-8

 
1460. 3  

 
1461.

 
1462. DMSO 1 1 1
OT2-9

 
1463. 3  

 
1464.

 
1465. DMSO 0 2 1
OT2-10

 
1466. 3  

 
1467.

 
1468. 1M betaine, TD 2 1 0
OT2-11

 
1469. 3  

 
1470.

 
1471. DMSO 1 1 1
OT2-12

 
1472. 3  

 
1473.

 
1474. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 1 0 2
OT2-13

 
1475. 3  

 
1476.

 
1477. DMSO 1 0 2
TABLE E
OT2-14

 
1478. 3  

 
1479.

 
1480. DMSO 2 0 1
OT2-15

 
1481. 3  

 
1482.

 
1483. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 0 2 1
OT2-16

 
1484 . 4  

 
1485.

 
1486. 68C Anneal, 3% DMSO 0 1 3
OT2-17

 
1487. 4  

 
1488.

 
1489. DMSO 0 2 2
OT2-18

 
1490. 4  

 
1491.

 
1492. DMSO 2 0 2
OT2-19

 
1493. 4  

 
1494.

 
1495. DMSO 1 0 3
OT2-20

 
1496. 4  

 
1497.

 
1498. DMSO 1 2 1
OT2-21

 
1499. 4  

 
1500.

 
1501. No DMSOTD 2 1 1
OT2-22

 
1502. 4  

 
1503.

 
1504. DMSO 1 2 1
OT2-23

 
1505. 4  

 
1506.

 
1507. No DMSOTD 1 0 3
OT2-24

 
1508. 4  

 
1509.

 
1510. DMSO 2 1 1
OT2-25

 
1511. 4

 


 
1512.

 
1513. DMSO 3 0 2
OT2-26

 
1514. 4   Not optimized         1 1 2
OT2-27

 
1515. 4  

 
1516.

 
1517. DMSO 1 1 2
OT2-28

 
1518. 4  

 
1519.

 
1520. DMSO 0 3 1
OT2-29

 
1521. 4  

 
1522.

 
1523. 1M betaine, TD 0 1 3
OT2-30

 
1524 . 4   Not optimized         1 2 1
OT2-31

 
1525. 4  

 
1526.

 
1527 . DMSO 2 1 1
OT2-32

 
1528. 5   Not optimized         1 1 3
OT2-33

 
1529. 5  

 
1530.

 
1531. DMSO 0 2 3
OT2-34

 
1532. 5  

 
1533.

 
1534. DMSO 1 1 3
OT2-35

 
1535. 5   Not optimized         1 0 4
OT2-36

 
1536. 5  

 
1537 .

 
1538. 68C Anneal, 3% DMSO 3 0 2
OT2-37

 
1539. 5  

 
1540.

 
1541. 1M betaine, TD 1 0 4
OT2-38

 
1542. 5  

 
1543.

 
1544. DMSO 2 1 2
OT2-39

 
1545. 5  

 
1546.

 
1547. DMSO 4 1 0
OT2-40

 
1548. 5  

 
1549.

 
1550. DMSO 4 1 0
OT2-41

 
1551. 5   Not optimized         1 4 0
OT2-42

 
1552. 5  

 
1553.

 
1554. DMSO 1 3 1
OT2-43

 
1555. 6  

 
1556 .

 
1557. DMSO 2 2 2
OT2-44

 
1558. 6  

 
1559.

 
1560. DMSO 2 2 2
OT2-45

 
1561. 6

 


 
1562.

 
1563. DMSO 1 1 5
OT2-46

 
1564. 6  

 
1565.

 
1566. DMSO 1 3 2
OT2-47

 
1567. 6  

 
1568.

 
1569. DMSO 2 3 1
OT2-48

 
1570. 6  

 
1571.

 
1572 . DMSO 3 1 2
OT2-49

 
1573. 6  

 
1574.

 
1575. DMSO 3 2 1
OT2-50

 
1576. 6  

 
1577.

 
1578. DMSO 3 0 3
OT2-51

 
1579. 6  

 
1580.

 
1581. DMSO 0 2 4
OT2-52

 
1582. 6   Not optimized         2 2 2
Target 3

 
1583. 0  

 
1584 .

 
1585. DMSO      
OT3-1

 
1586. 1  

 
1587.

 
1588. DMSO 0 0 1
OT3-2

 
1589. 2  

 
1590.

 
1591. DMSO 0 0 2
OT3-3

 
1592. 2  

 
1593.

 
1594. DMSO 1 0 1
OT3-4

 
1595. 2  

 
1596.

 
1597. DMSO 1 0 1
OT3-5

 
1598. 2  

 
1599.

 
1600. DMSO 1 1 0
OT3-6

 
1601. 2  

 
1602.

 
1603. DMSO 1 0 1
OT3-7

 
1604. 2  

 
1605.

 
1606. 1M betaine, TD 1 1 0
OT3-8

 
1607. 2  

 
1608.

 
1609. DMSO 1 1 0
OT3-9

 
1610. 2  

 
1611.

 
1612. DMSO 0 1 1
OT3-10

 
1613. 2  

 
1614.

 
1615. DMSO 1 1 0
OT3-11

 
1616. 2  

 
1617.

 
1618. DMSO 1 0 1
OT3-12

 
1619. 2  

 
1620.

 
1621. DMSO 1 0 1
OT3-13

 
1622. 2  

 
1623.

 
1624. 68C, 3% DMSO 2 0 0
OT3-14

 
1625. 2  

 
1626.

 
1627 . DMSO 2 0 0
OT3-15

 
1628. 2  

 
1629.

 
1630. DMSO 2 0 0
OT3-16

 
1631. 2  

 
1632.

 
1633. DMSO 2 0 0
OT3-17

 
1634. 2  

 
1635.

 
1636. DMSO 0 1 1
OT3-18

 
1637. 2  

 
1638.

 
1639. DMSO 0 1 1
OT3-19

 
1640. 3  

 
1641.

 
1642. DMSO 2 0 1
OT3-20

 
1643. 3  

 
1644.

 
1645. DMSO 1 0 2
OT3-21

 
1646. 3  

 
1647.

 
1648. DMSO 0 0 3
OT3-22

 
1649. 3  

 
1650.

 
1651. DMSO 1 1 1
OT3-23

 
1652. 3  

 
1653.

 
1654. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 1 1 1
OT3-24

 
1655. 3  

 
1656.

 
1657. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 2 0 1
OT3-25

 
1658. 3  

 
1659.

 
1660. DMSO 2 0 1
OT3-26

 
1661. 3  

 
1662.

 
1663. DMSO 3 0 0
OT3-27

 
1664. 3  

 
1665.

 
1666. DMSO 2 1 0
OT3-28

 
1667. 3  

 
1668.

 
1669. DMSO 0 3 1
OT3-29

 
1670. 3  

 
1671.

 
1672 . DMSO 2 1 0
OT3-30

 
1673. 3  

 
1674.

 
1675. 68C, 3% DMSO 1 1 1
OT3-31

 
1676. 3  

 
1677.

 
1678. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 1 2 0
OT3-32

 
1679. 3  

 
1680.

 
1681. DMSO 1 1 1
OT3-33

 
1682. 3  

 
1683.

 
1684. DMSO 2 1 0
OT3-34

 
1685. 3  

 
1686.

 
1687. DMSO 1 2 0
OT3-35

 
1688. 3  

 
1689.

 
1690. DMSO 2 1 0
OT3-36

 
1691. 4   Not optimized         1 0 3
OT3-37

 
1692 . 4  

 
1693.

 
1694. DMSO 2 1 1
OT3-38

 
1695. 4  

 
1696.

 
1697. DMSO 2 0 2
OT3-39

 
1698. 4  

 
1699.

 
1700. DMSO 3 0 1
OT3-40

 
1701. 4  

 
1702.

 
1703. DMSO 1 2 1
OT3-41

 
1704. 4   Not optimized         0 3 1
OT3-42

 
1705. 4  

 
1706.

 
1707. DMSO 1 2 1
OT3-43

 
1708. 4  

 
1709.

 
1710. DMSO 2 1 1
OT3-44

 
1711. 4  

 
1712.

 
1713. DMSO 3 1 0
OT3-45

 
1714. 4  

 
1715.

 
1716. DMSO 3 1 0
OT3-46

 
1717. 4   Not optimized         2 2 0
OT3-47

 
1718. 4  

 
1719.

 
1720. DMSO 2 2 0
OT3-48

 
1721. 4  

 
1722.

 
1723. DMSO 2 2 0
OT3-49

 
1724. 5  

 
1725.

 
1726. DMSO 1 2 2
OT3-50

 
1727 . 5  

 
1728.

 
1729. DMSO 1 2 2
OT3-51

 
1730. 5   Not optimized         2 2 1
OT3-52

 
1731. 5  

 
1732

 
1733. DMSO 3 0 2
OT3-53

 
1734. 5  

 
1735

 
1736. DMSO 2 1 2
OT3-54

 
1737. 5  

 
1738

 
1739. DMSO 3 1 1
OT3-55

 
1740. 5  

 
1741

 
1742. DMSO 2 1 2
OT3-56

 
1743. 5  

 
1744

 
1745. DMSO 3 1 1
OT3-57

 
1746. 5  

 
1747

 
1748. DMSO 2 2 1
OT3-58

 
1749. 5  

 
1750

 
1751. DMSO 2 3 0
OT3-59

 
1752. 6  

 
1753

 
1754. DMSO 2 1 3
OT3-60

 
1755. 6  

 
1756

 
1757. DMSO 4 0 2
OT3-61

 
1758. 6  

 
1759

 
1760. DMSO 1 3 2
OT3-62

 
1761. 6  

 
1762

 
1763. DMSO 3 1 2
OT3-63

 
1764. 6  

 
1765

 
1766. DMSO 3 1 2
OT3-64

 
1767. 6  

 
1768.

 
1769. DMSO 2 3 1
OT3-65

 
1770. 6  

 
1771.

 
1772 . DMSO 2 3 1
OT3-66

 
1773. 6  

 
1774.

 
1775. DMSO 1 2 3
OT3-67

 
1776. 6  

 
1777.

 
1778. DMSO 2 4 0
OT3-68

 
1779. 6  

 
1780.

 
1781. DMSO 1 3 2
    1782.       1783.   1784.        
Target 4

 
1785. 0  

 
1786.

 
1787. DMSO      
OT4-1

 
1788. 2  

 
1789.

 
1790. DMSO 0 1 1
OT4-2

 
1791. 3

 


 
1792 .

 
1793. DMSO 2 1 1
OT4-3

 
1794. 3  

 
1795.

 
1796. DMSO 1 0 2
OT4-4

 
1797. 3  

 
1798.

 
1799. 1M betaine, TD 1 0 2
OT4-5

 
1800. 3  

 
1801.

 
1802. DMSO 0 1 2
OT4-6

 
1803. 3  

 
1804 .

 
1805. DMSO 1 1 1
OT4-7

 
1806. 3  

 
1807.

 
1808. 1M betaine, TD 1 1 1
OT4-8

 
1809. 3   Not optimized         1 0 2
OT4-9

 
1810. 3  

 
1811.

 
1812. 72C Anneal, 6% DMSO 0 0 3
OT4-10

 
1813. 3  

 
1814.

 
1815. DMSO 0 1 2
OT4-11

 
1816. 3  

 
1817.

 
1818. DMSO 0 3 0
OT4-12

 
1819. 3   Not optimized         2 1 0
OT4-13

 
1820. 3  

 
1821.

 
1822. DMSO 0 1 2
OT4-14

 
1823. 3  

 
1824.

 
1825. DMSO 1 2 0
OT4-15

 
1826. 3  

 
1827 .

 
1828. DMSO 1 2 0
OT4-16

 
1829. 4  

 
1830.

 
1831. DMSO 1 0 3
OT4-17

 
1832. 4  

 
1833.

 
1834. DMSO 2 0 2
OT4-18

 
1835. 4  

 
1836.

 
1837. DMSO 1 0 3
OT4-19

 
1838. 4  

 
1839.

 
1840. DMSO 1 2 1
OT4-20

 
1841. 4  

 
1842.

 
1843. DMSO 0 2 2
OT4-21

 
1844. 4   Not optimized         1 1 2
OT4-22

 
1845. 4  

 
1846.

 
1847. DMSO 2 0 2
OT4-23

 
1848. 4  

 
1849.

 
1850. DMSO 3 0 1
OT4-24

 
1851. 4  

 
1852.

 
1853. DMSO 3 0 1
OT4-25

 
1854. 4  

 
1855.

 
1856. 1M betaine, TD 1 2 1
OT4-26

 
1857. 4  

 
1858.

 
1859. DMSO 3 1 0
OT4-27

 
1860. 4  

 
1861.

 
1862. DMSO 3 1 0
OT4-28

 
1863. 4  

 
1864 .

 
1865. DMSO 0 2 2
OT4-29

 
1866. 4  

 
1867.

 
1868. DMSO 2 2 0
OT4-30

 
1869. 5  

 
1870.

 
1871. DMSO 2 2 1
OT4-31

 
1872 . 5  

 
1873.

 
1874. DMSO 1 0 4
OT4-32

 
1875. 5  

 
1876

 
1877. DMSO 1 1 3
OT4-33

 
1878. 5  

 
1879

 
1880. DMSO 0 2 3
OT4-34

 
1881. 5  

 
1882

 
1883. DMSO 3 1 1
OT4-35

 
1884. 5  

 
1885

 
1886. DMSO 2 2 1
OT4-36

 
1887. 5  

 
1888

 
1889. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 3 1 1
OT4-37

 
1890. 5  

 
1891

 
1892. DMSO 1 3 1
OT4-38

 
1893. 5  

 
1894

 
1895. DMSO 1 3 1
OT4-39

 
1896. 5  

 
1897

 
1898. DMSO 2 1 2
OT4-40

 
1899. 5  

 
1900

 
1901. DMSO 1 3 1
OT4-41

 
1902. 5  

 
1903

 
1904. DMSO 2 2 1
OT4-42

 
1905. 6  

 
1906

 
1907. DMSO 1 2 3
OT4-43

 
1908. 6  

 
1909

 
1910. DMSO 0 3 3
OT4-44

 
1911. 6  

 
1912

 
1913. DMSO 0 4 2
OT4-45

 
1914. 6   Not optimized         2 2 2
OT4-46

 
1915. 6   Not optimized         2 2 2
OT4-47

 
1916. 6  

 
1917

 
1918. DMSO 4 1 1
OT4-48

 
1919. 6  

 
1920

 
1921. DMSO 2 2 2
OT4-49

 
1922. 6  

 
1923

 
1924. DMSO 2 1 3
OT4-50

 
1925. 6

 


 
1926

 
1927. DMSO 2 / 1 2 / 3 2
OT4-51

 
1928. 6  

 
1929

 
1930. DMSO 0 4 2
    1931.       1932 1932. 1933.        
Target 5

 
1934. 0  

 
1935

 
1936. DMSO      
OT5-1

 
1937. 3

 


 
1938

 
1939. DMSO 1 / 2 1 1


 
OT5-2

 
1940. 3  

 
1941

 
1942. DMSO 0 3 0
OT5-3

 
1943. 3  

 
1944

 
1945. DMSO 1 2 0
OT5-4

 
1946. 3  

 
1947 .

 
1948. DMSO 1 1 1
OT5-5

 
1949. 3   Not optimized 1950.   1951.   1 1 1
OT5-6

 
1952. 3  

 
1953.

 
1954. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 0 3 0
OT5-7

 
1955. 4   Not optimized         2 0 2
OT5-8

 
1956. 4  

 
1957 .

 
1958. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 1 2 1
OT5-9

 
1959. 4  

 
1960.

 
1961. DMSO 1 1 2
OT5-10

 
1962. 4  

 
1963.

 
1964. DMSO 1 0 3
OT5-11

 
1965. 4  

 
1966.

 
1967. DMSO 1 0 3
OT5-12

 
1968. 4  

 
1969.

 
1970. DMSO 2 1 1
OT5-13

 
1971. 4  

 
1972 .

 
1973. DMSO 2 1 1
OT5-14

 
1974 . 4  

 
1975.

 
1976. DMSO 3 0 1
OT5-15

 
1977. 4  

 
1978.

 
1979. DMSO 1 1 2
OT5-16

 
1980. 4  

 
1981.

 
1982. DMSO 2 0 2
OT5-17

 
1983. 4  

 
1984 .

 
1985. DMSO 2 0 2
OT5-18

 
1986. 4  

 
1987.

 
1988. DMSO 1 2 1
OT5-19

 
1989. 4  

 
1990.

 
1991. DMSO 1 0 3
OT5-20

 
1992. 4  

 
1993.

 
1994. DMSO 1 2 1
OT5-21

 
1995. 4   Not optimized         1 0 3
OT5-22

 
1996. 4  

 
1997.

 
1998. DMSO 1 0 3
OT5-23

 
1999. 4  

 
2000.

 
2001. DMSO 1 2 1
OT5-24

 
2002. 4

 


 
2003.

 
2004. DMSO 1 1 2


 
OT5-25

 
2005. 4  

 
2006.

 
2007. DMSO 1 1 2
OT5-26

 
2008. 4

 


 
2009.

 
2010. No DMSO TD 1 2 1
OT5-27

 
2011. 5  

 
2012.

 
2013. DMSO 3 0 2
OT5-28

 
2014. 5  

 
2015.

 
2016. DMSO 3 0 2
OT5-29

 
2017. 5  

 
2018.

 
2019. DMSO 0 4 1
OT5-30

 
2020. 5  

 
2021.

 
2022. 1M betaine, TD 1 3 1
OT5-31

 
2023. 5  

 
2024.

 
2025. DMSO 1 2 2
OT5-32

 
2026. 5  

 
2027 .

 
2028. DMSO 3 1 1
OT5-33

 
2029. 5  

 
2030.

 
2031. DMSO 3 1 1
OT5-34

 
2032. 5  

 
2033.

 
2034. 68C, 3% DMSO 4 0 1
OT5-35

 
2035. 5  

 
2036.

 
2037. DMSO 2 3 0
OT5-36

 
2038. 5  

 
2039.

 
2040. DMSO 1 2 2
OT5-37

 
2041. 6  

 
2042.

 
2043. DMSO 5 0 1
OT5-38

 
2044. 6  

 
2045.

 
2046. DMSO 3 0 3
OT5-39

 
2047. 6  

 
2048.

 
2049. DMSO 1 1 4
OT5-40

 
2050. 6  

 
2051.

 
2052 . DMSO 1 3 2
OT5-41

 
2053. 6  

 
2054.

 
2055. DMSO 0 3 3
OT5-42

 
2056. 6  

 
2057.

 
2058. DMSO 1 3 2
OT5-43

 
2059. 6  

 
2060.

 
2061. DMSO 4 2 0
OT5-44

 
2062. 6  

 
2063.

 
2064. DMSO 2 1 3
OT5-45

 
2065. 6  

 
2066.

 
2067. DMSO 2 0 4
OT5-46

 
2068. 6  

 
2069.

 
2070. DMSO 1 2 3
                         
Target 6

 
2071. 0  

 
2072 .

 
2073. DMSO      
OT6-1

 
2074. 2  

 
2075.

 
2076. DMSO 0 1 1
OT6-2

 
2077. 3  

 
2078.

 
2079. DMSO 1 1 1
OT6-3

 
2080. 3  

 
2081.

 
2082. DMSO 0 2 1
OT6-4

 
2083. 3  

 
2084.

 
2085. DMSO 0 2 1
OT6-5

 
2086. 3  

 
2087.

 
2088. 1M betaine, TD 0 1 2
OT6-6

 
2089. 3

 


 
2090.

 
2091. DMSO 1 1 1 / 2


 
OT6-7

 
2092. 3

 


 
2093.

 
2094. 1M betaine, TD 0 1 5
OT6-8

 
2095. 3  

 
2096.

 
2097. DMSO 1 0 2
OT6-9

 
2098. 3  

 
2099.

 
2100. DMSO 1 1 1
OT6-10

 
2101. 3  

 
2102.

 
2103. DMSO 0 0 3
OT6-11

 
2104. 3  

 
2105.

 
2106. DMSO 0 0 3
OT6-12

 
2107. 3  

 
2108.

 
2109. DMSO 0 3 0
OT6-13

 
2110. 3  

 
2111.

 
2112. DMSO 1 2 0
OT6-14

 
2113. 3  

 
2114.

 
2115. DMSO 2 1 0
OT6-15

 
2116. 4  

 
2117.

 
2118. DMSO 0 1 3
OT6-16

 
2119. 4  

 
2120.

 
2121. 72C Anneal, 3% DMSO 0 1 3
OT6-17

 
2122. 4  

 
2123.

 
2124 . DMSO 1 1 2
OT6-18

 
2125. 4  

 
2126.

 
2127 . DMSO 1 1 2
OT6-19

 
2128. 4  

 
2129.

 
2130. DMSO 0 1 3
OT6-20

 
2131. 4  

 
2132.

 
2133. DMSO 2 0 2
OT6-21

 
2134. 4  

 
2135.

 
2136. DMSO 2 1 1
OT6-22

 
2137. 4  

 
2138.

 
2139. DMSO 1 1 2
OT6-23

 
2140. 4  

 
2141.

 
2142. DMSO 1 1 2
OT6-24

 
2143. 4  

 
2144.

 
2145. DMSO 2 0 2
OT6-25

 
2146. 4  

 
2147.

 
2148. 1M betaine, TD 1 2 1
OT6-26

 
2149. 4  

 
2150.

 
2151. 1M betaine TD 1 2 1
OT6-27

 
2152. 4  

 
2153.

 
2154. 1M betaine, TD 1 2 1
OT6-28

 
2155. 4  

 
2156.

 
2157. DMSO 2 2 0
OT6-29

 
2158. 4  

 
2159.

 
2160. DMSO 0 2 2
OT6-30

 
2161. 4  

 
2162.

 
2163. DMSO 0 3 1
OT6-31

 
2164. 4  

 
2165.

 
2166. DMSO 2 2 0
OT6-32

 
2167. 5  

 
2168.

 
2169. DMSO 1 0 4
OT6-33

 
2170. 5  

 
2171.

 
2172 . DMSO 1 1 3
OT6-34

 
2173. 5  

 
2174.

 
2175. DMSO 1 2 2
OT6-35

 
2176. 5

 


 
2177.

 
2178. DMSO 1 2 3
OT6-36

 
2179. 5  

 
2180.

 
2181. DMSO 3 2 0
OT6-37

 
2182. 5  

 
2183.

 
2184. DMSO 2 3 0
OT6-38

 
2185. 5  

 
2186.

 
2187. DMSO 2 2 1
OT6-39

 
2188. 5  

 
2189.

 
2190. DMSO 2 3 0
OT6-40

 
2191. 5  

 
2192 .

 
2193. DMSO 1 3 1
OT6-41

 
2194. 5  

 
2195.

 
2196. DMSO 2 1 2
OT6-42

 
2197. 6

 


 
2198.

 
2199. 1M betaine TD 3 / 2 3 1
OT6-43

 
2200. 6  

 
2201.

 
2202. DMSO 2 1 3
OT6-44

 
2203. 6  

 
2204.

 
2205. DMSO 3 1 2
OT6-45

 
2206. 6  

 
2207.

 
2208. DMSO 0 3 3
OT6-46

 
2209. 6  

 
2210.

 
2211. DMSO 3 2 1
OT6-47

 
2212. 6  

 
2213.

 
2214. DMSO 4 0 2
OT6-48

 
2215. 6  

 
2216.

 
2217. DMSO 3 0 3
OT6-49

 
2218. 6  

 
2219.

 
2220. DMSO 2 3 1
OT6-50

 
2221. 6   Not optimized         3 1 2
OT6-51

 
2222. 6  

 
2223.

 
2224. DMSO 1 4 1

Sanger sequencing for quantifying frequencies of indel mutations



[0122] Purified PCR products used for T7EI assay were ligated into a Zero Blunt TOPO vector (Life Technologies) and transformed into chemically competent Top 10 bacterial cells. Plasmid DNAs were isolated and sequenced by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) DNA Automation Core, using an M13 forward primer (5'-GTAAAACGACGGCCAG-3') (SEQ ID NO: 1059).

Restriction digest assay for quantifying specific alterations induced by HDR with ssODNs



[0123] PCR reactions of specific on-target sites were performed using Phusion high-fidelity DNA polymerase (New England Biolabs). The VEGF and EMX1 loci were amplified using a touchdown PCR program ((98 °C, 10 s; 72-62 °C, -1 °C/cycle, 15 s; 72 °C, 30 s) x 10 cycles, (98 °C, 10 s; 62 °C, 15 s; 72 °C, 30 s) x 25 cycles), with 3% DMSO. The primers used for these PCR reactions are listed in Table E. PCR products were purified by Ampure XP beads (Agencourt) according to the manufacturer's instructions. For detection of the BamHI restriction site encoded by the ssODN donor template, 200 ng of purified PCR products were digested with BamHI at 37 °C for 45 minutes. The digested products were purified by Ampure XP beads (Agencourt), eluted in 20ul 0.1xEB buffer and analyzed and quantified using a QIAXCEL capillary electrophoresis system.

TruSeq library Generation and Sequencing Data Analysis



[0124] Locus-specific primers were designed to flank on-target and potential and verified off-target sites to produce PCR products ∼300bp to 400 bps in length. Genomic DNAs from the pooled duplicate samples described above were used as templates for PCR. All PCR products were purified by Ampure XP beads (Agencourt) per the manufacturer's instructions. Purified PCR products were quantified on a QIAXCEL capillary electrophoresis system. PCR products for each locus were amplified from each of the pooled duplicate samples (described above), purified, quantified, and then pooled together in equal quantities for deep sequencing. Pooled amplicons were ligated with dual-indexed Illumina TruSeq adaptors as previously described (Fisher et al., 2011). The libraries were purified and run on a QIAXCEL capillary electrophoresis system to verify change in size following adaptor ligation. The adapter-ligated libraries were quantified by qPCR and then sequenced using Illumina MiSeq 250 bp paired-end reads performed by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Molecular Biology Core Facilities. We analyzed between 75,000 and 1,270,000 (average ∼422,000) reads for each sample. The TruSeq reads were analyzed for rates of indel mutagenesis as previously described (Sander et al., 2013). Specificity ratios were calculated as the ratio of observed mutagenesis at an on-target locus to that of a particular off-target locus as determined by deep sequencing. Fold-improvements in specificity with tru-RGNs for individual off-target sites were calculated as the specificity ratio observed with tru-gRNAs to the specificity ratio for that same target with the matched full-length gRNA. As mentioned in the text, for some of the off-target sites, no indel mutations were detected with tru-gRNAs. In these cases, we used a Poisson calculator to determine with a 95% confidence that the upper limit of the actual number of mutated sequences would be three in number. We then used this upper bound to estimate the minimum fold-improvement in specificity for these off-target sites.

Example 2a. Truncated gRNAs can efficiently direct Cas9-mediated genome editing in human cells



[0125] To test the hypothesis that gRNAs truncated at their 5' end might function as efficiently as their full-length counterparts, a series of progressively shorter gRNAs were initially constructed as described above for a single target site in the EGFP reporter gene, with the following sequence: 5'-GGCGAGGGCGATGCCACCTAcGG-3' (SEQ ID NO:2241). This particular EGFP site was chosen because it was possible to make gRNAs to it with 15, 17, 19, and 20 nts of complementarity that each have a G at their 5' end (required for efficient expression from the U6 promoter used in these experiments). Using a human cell-based reporter assay in which the frequency of RGN-induced indels could be quantified by assessing disruption of a single integrated and constitutively expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene (Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013; Reyon et al., 2012) (Figure 2B), the abilities of these variable-length gRNAs to direct Cas9-induced indels at the target site were measured.

[0126] As noted above, gRNAs bearing longer lengths of complementarity (21, 23, and 25 nts) exhibit decreased activities relative to the standard full-length gRNA containing 20 nts of complementary sequence (Figure 2H), a result that matches those recently reported by others (Ran et al., Cell 2013). However, gRNAs bearing 17 or 19 nts of target complementarity showed activities comparable to or higher than the full-length gRNA, while a shorter gRNA bearing only 15 nts of complementary failed to show significant activity (Figure 2H).

[0127] To test the generality of these initial findings, full-length gRNAs and matched gRNAs bearing 18, 17 and/or 16 nts of complementarity to four additional EGFP reporter gene sites (EGFP sites #1, #2, #3, and #4; Figure 3A) were assayed. At all four target sites, gRNAs bearing 17 and/or 18 nts of complementarity functioned as efficiently as (or, in one case, more efficiently than) their matched full-length gRNAs to induce Cas9-mediated disruption of EGFP expression (Figure 3A). However, gRNAs with only 16 nts of complementarity showed significantly decreased or undetectable activities on the two sites for which they could be made (Figure 3A). For each of the different sites tested, we transfected the same amounts of the full-length or shortened gRNA expression plasmid and Cas9 expression plasmid. Control experiments in which we varied the amounts of Cas9 and truncated gRNA expression plasmids transfected for EGFP sites #1, #2, and #3 suggested that shortened gRNAs function equivalently to their full-length counterparts (Figures 3E (bottom) and 3F (bottom)) and that therefore we could use the same amounts of plasmids when making comparisons at any given target site. Taken together, these results provide evidence that shortened gRNAs bearing 17 or 18 nts of complementarity can generally function as efficiently as full-length gRNAs and hereafter the truncated gRNAs with these complementarity lengths are referred to as "tru-gRNAs" and RGNs using these tru-gRNAs as "tru-RGNs".

[0128] Whether tru-RGNs could efficiently induce indels on chromatinized endogenous gene targets was tested next. Tru-gRNAs were constructed for seven sites in three endogenous human genes (VEGFA, EMX1, and CLTA), including four sites that had previously been targeted with standard full-length gRNAs in three endogenous human genes: VEGFA site 1, VEGFA site 3, EMX1, and CTLA (Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013; Hsu et al., 2013; Pattanayak et al., 2013) (Figure 3B). (It was not possible to test a tru-gRNA for VEGFA site 2 from Example 1, because this target sequence does not have the G at either position 17 or 18 of the complementarity region required for gRNA expression from a U6 promoter.) Using a well-established T7 Endonuclease I (T7EI) genotyping assay (Reyon et al., 2012) as described above, the Cas9-mediated indel mutation frequencies induced by each of these various gRNAs at their respective target sites was quantified in human U20S.EGFP cells. For all five of the seven four sites, tru-RGNs robustly induced indel mutations with efficiencies comparable to those mediated by matched standard RGNs (Figure 3B). For the two sites on which tru-RGNs showed lower activities than their full-length counterparts, we note that the absolute rates of mutagenesis were still high (means of 13.3% and 16.6%) at levels that would be useful for most applications. Sanger sequencing for three of these target sites (VEGFA sites 1 and 3 and EMX1) confirmed that indels induced by tru-RGNs originate at the expected site of cleavage and that these mutations are essentially indistinguishable from those induced with standard RGNs (Figure 3C and Figures 7A-D).

[0129] We also found that tru-gRNAs bearing a mismatched 5' G and an 18 nt complementarity region could efficiently direct Cas9-induced indels whereas those bearing a mismatched 5' G and a 17 nt complementarity region showed lower or undetectable activities compared with matched full-length gRNAs (Figure 7E), consistent with our findings that a minimum of 17 nts of complementarity is required for efficient RGN activity.

[0130] To further assess the genome-editing capabilities of tru-RGNs, their abilities to induce precise sequence alterations via HDR with ssODN donor templates were tested. Previous studies have shown that Cas9-induced breaks can stimulate the introduction of sequence from a homologous ssODN donor into an endogenous locus in human cells (Cong et al., 2013; Mali et al., 2013c; Ran et al., 2013; Yang et al., 2013). Therefore, the abilities were compared of matched full-length and tru-gRNAs targeted to VEGFA site 1 and to the EMX1 site to introduce a BamHI restriction site encoded on homologous ssODNs into these endogenous genes. At both sites, tru-RGNs mediated introduction of the BamHI site with efficiencies comparable to those seen with standard RGNs harboring their full-length gRNA counterparts (Figure 3D). Taken together, this data demonstrate that tru-RGNs can function as efficiently as standard RGNs to direct both indels and precise HDR-mediated genome editing events in human cells.

Example 2b. tru-RGNs exhibit enhanced sensitivities to gRNA/DNA interface mismatches



[0131] Having established that tru-RGNs can function efficiently to induce on-target genome editing alterations, whether these nucleases would show greater sensitivity to mismatches at the gRNA/DNA interface was tested. To assess this, a systematic series of variants was constructed for the tru-gRNAs that were previously tested on EGFP sites #1, #2, and #3 (Figure 3A above). The variant gRNAs harbor single Watson-Crick substitutions at each position within the complementarity region (with the exception of the 5' G required for expression from the U6 promoter) (Figure 5A). The human cell-based EGFP disruption assay was used to assess the relative abilities of these variant tru-gRNAs and an analogous set of matched variant full-length gRNAs made to the same three sites as described in Example 1 to direct Cas9-mediated indels. The results show that for all three EGFP target sites, tru-RGNs generally showed greater sensitivities to single mismatches than standard RGNs harboring matched full-length gRNAs (compare bottom and top panels of Figure 5A). The magnitude of sensitivity varied by site, with the greatest differences observed for sites #2 and #3, whose tru-gRNAs harbored 17 nts of complementarity.

[0132] Encouraged by the increased sensitivity of tru-RGNs to single nucleotide mismatches, we next sought to examine the effects of systematically mismatching two adjacent positions at the gRNA-DNA interface. We therefore made variants of the tru-gRNAs targeted to EGFP target sites #1, #2, and #3, each bearing Watson-Crick transversion substitutions at two adjacent nucleotide positions (Figure 5B). As judged by the EGFP disruption assay, the effects of adjacent double mismatches on RGN activity were again substantially greater for tru-gRNAs than for the analogous variants made in Example 1 for matched full-length gRNAs targeted to all three EGFP target sites (compare bottom to top panels in Figure 5B). These effects appeared to be site-dependent with nearly all of the double-mismatched tru-gRNAs for EGFP sites #2 and #3 failing to show an increase in EGFP disruption activities relative to a control gRNA lacking a complementarity region and with only three of the mismatched tru-gRNA variants for EGFP site #1 showing any residual activities (Figure 5B). In addition, although double mutations generally showed greater effects on the 5' end with full-length gRNAs, this effect was not observed with tru-gRNAs. Taken together, our data suggest that tru-gRNAs exhibit greater sensitivities than full-length gRNAs to single and double Watson-Crick transversion mismatches at the gRNA-DNA interface.

Example 2c. tru-RGNs targeted to endogenous genes show improved specificities in human cells



[0133] The next experiments were performed to determine whether tru-RGNs might show reduced genomic off-target effects in human cells relative to standard RGNs harboring full-length gRNA counterparts. We examined matched full-length and tru-gRNAs targeted to VEGFA site 1, VEGFA site 3, and EMX1 site 1 (described in Fig. 3B above) because previous studies (see Example 1 and Fu et al., 2013; Hsu et al., 2013) had defined 13 bona fide off-target sites for the full-length gRNAs targeted to these sites. (We were unable to test a tru-gRNA for VEGFA site 2 from our original study6 because this target sequence does not have the G at either position 17 or 18 of the complementarity region required for efficient gRNA expression from a U6 promoter.) Strikingly, we found that tru-RGNs showed substantially reduced mutagenesis activity in human U20S.EGFP cells relative to matched standard RGNs at all 13 of these bona fide off-target sites as judged by T7EI assay (Table 3A); for 11 of the 13 off-target sites, the mutation frequency with tru-RGNs dropped below the reliable detection limit of the T7EI assay (2 - 5%) (Table 3A). We observed similar results when these matched pairs of standard and tru-RGNs were tested at the same 13 off-target sites in another human cell line (FT-HEK293 cells) (Table 3A).

[0134] To quantify the magnitude of specificity improvement observed with tru-RGNs, we measured off-target mutation frequencies using high-throughput sequencing, which provides a more sensitive method for detecting and quantifying low frequency mutations than the T7EI assay. We assessed a subset of 12 of the 13 bona fide off-target sites for which we had seen decreased mutation rates with tru-gRNAs by T7EI assay (for technical reasons, we were unable to amplify the required shorter amplicon for one of the sites) and also examined an additional off-target site for EMX1 site 1 that had been identified by another group7 (Fig. 6A). For all 13 off-target sites we tested, tru-RGNs showed substantially decreased absolute frequencies of mutagenesis relative to matched standard RGNs (Fig. 6A and Table 3B) and yielded improvements in specificity of as much as ∼5000-fold or more relative to their standard RGN counterparts (Fig. 6B). For two off-target sites (OT1-4 and OT1-11), it was difficult to quantify the on-target to off-target ratios for tru-RGNs because the absolute number and frequency of indel mutations induced by tru-RGNs fell to background or near-background levels. Thus, the ratio of on-target to off-target rates would calculate to be infinite in these cases. To address this, we instead identified the maximum likely indel frequency with a 95% confidence level for these sites and then used this conservative estimate to calculate the minimum likely magnitude of specificity improvement for tru-RGNs relative to standard RGNs for these off-targets. These calculations suggest tru-RGNs yield improvements of∼10,000-fold or more at these sites (Fig. 6B).

[0135] To further explore the specificity of tru-RGNs, we examined their abilities to induce off-target mutations at additional closely related sites in the human genome. For the tru-gRNAs to VEGFA site 1 and EMX1, which each possess 18 nts of target site complementarity, we computationally identified all additional sites in the human genome mismatched at one or two positions within the complementarity region (not already examined above in Table 3A) and a subset of all sites mismatched at three positions among which we favored mismatches in the 5' end of the site as described in Example 1. For the tru-gRNA to VEGFA site 3, which possesses 17 nts of target site complementarity, we identified all sites mismatched at one position and a subset of all sites mismatched at two positions among which mismatches in the 5' end were favored (again not already examined in Table 3A). This computational analysis yielded a total of 30, 30, and 34 additional potential off-target sites for the tru-RGNs targeted to VEGFA site 1, VEFGA site 3, and the EMX1 site, respectively, which we then assessed for mutations using T7EI assay in human U20S.EGFP and HEK293 cells in which the RGNs had been expressed.

[0136] Strikingly, the three tru-RGNs to VEGFA site 1, VEFGA site 3, and EMX1 did not induce detectable Cas9-mediated indel mutations at 93 of the 94 potential off-target sites examined in human U20S.EGFP cells or at any of the 94 potential off-target sites in human HEK293 cells (Table 3C). For the one site at which off-target mutations were seen, whether the standard RGN with a full-length gRNA targeted to VEGFA site 1 could also mutagenize this same off-target site was examined; it induced detectable mutations albeit at a slightly lower frequency (Figure 6C). The lack of improvement observed with shortening of the gRNA at this off-target site can be understood by comparing the 20 and 18 nt sequences for the full-length and tru-gRNAs, which shows that the two additional bases in the full-length 20 nt target are both mismatched (Figure 6C). In summary, based on this survey of 94 additional potential off-target sites, shortening of the gRNA does not appear to induce new highfrequency off-target mutations.

[0137] Deep sequencing of a subset of the 30 most closely matched potential off-target sites from this set of 94 site (i.e.-those with one or two mismatches) showed either undetectable or very low rates of indel mutations (Table 3D) comparable to what we observed at other previously identified off-target sites (Table 3B). We conclude that tru-RGNs generally appear to induce either very low or undetectable levels of mutations at sites that differ by one or two mismatches from the on-target site. This contrasts with standard RGNs for which it was relatively easy to find highfrequency off-target mutations at sites that differed by as many as five mismatches (see Example 1).
TABLE 3A
On- and off-target mutation frequencies of matched tru-RGNs and standard RGNs targeted to endogenous genes in human U20S.EGFP and HEK293 cells
Target ID20mer TargetSEQ ID NO:Indel mutation frequency (%) ± s.e.m.TruncatedTargetSEQ ID NO:Indel mutation frequency (%) ± s.e.m.Gene
U20S.EGFPHEK293U20S.EGFPHEK293
T1 GGGTGGGGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2242. 23.69 ± 1.99 6.98 ± 1.33 GTGGGGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2243. 23.93 ±4.37 8.34 ± 0.01 ± VEGFA
OT1-3 GGATGGAGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2244. 17.25 ± 2.97 7.26 ± 0.62 ATGGAGGGAGTTTGCT CCtGG 2245. N.D. N.D. IGDCC3
OT1-4 GGGAGGGTGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2246. 6.23 ± 0.20 2.66 ± 0.30 GAGGGTGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2247. N.D. N.D. LOC116437
OT1-6 CGGGGGAGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2248. 3.73 ± 0.23 1.41 ± 0.07 GGGGAGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2249. N.D. N.D. CACNA2D
OT1-11 GGGGAGGGGAAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2250. 10.4 ± 0.7 3.61 ± 0.02 GGAGGGGAAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2251. N.D. N.D.  
 
T3 GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2252. 54.08 ± 1.02 22.97 ± 0.17 GAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2253. 50.49 ± 1.25 20.05 ± 0.01 VEGFA
OT3-1 GGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGaGG 2254. 6.16 ± 0.98 6.02 ± 0.11 GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGaGG 2255. N.D. N.D. (abParts)
OT3-2 AGTGAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGgGG 2256. 19.64 ± 1.06 11.29 ± 0.27 GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGgGG 2257. 5.52 ± 0.25 3.41± 0.07 MAX
OT3-4 GCTGAGTGAGTGTATGCGTGtGG 2258. 7.95 ± 0.11 4.50 ± 0.02 GAGTGAGTGTATGCGTGtGG 2259. 1.69 ± 0.26 1.27 ± 0.10  
OT3-9 GGTGAGTGAGTGCGTGCGGGtGG 2260. N.D. 1.09 ± 0.17 GAGTGAGTGCGTGCGGGtGG 2261. N.D. N.D. TPCN2
OT3-17 GTTGAGTGAATGTGTGCGTGaGG 2262. 1.85 ± 0.08 N.D. GAGTGAATGTGTGCGTGaGG 2263. N.D. N.D. SLIT1
OT3-18 TGTGGGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGaGG 2264. 6.16 ± 0.56 6.27 ± 0.09 GGGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGaGG 2265. N.D. N.D. COMDA
OT3-20 AGAGAGTGAGTGTGTGCATGaGG 2266. 10.47 ± 1.08 4.38 ± 0.58 GAGTGAGTGTGTGCATGaGG 2267. N.D. N.D.  
 
T4 GAGTCCGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2268. 41.56 ± 0.20 12.65 ± 0.31 GTCCGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2269. 43.01 ± 0.87 17.25 ± 0.64 EMX1
OT4-1 GAGTTAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2270. 19.26 ± 0.73 4.14 ± 0.66 GTTAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2271. N.D. N.D. HCN1
OT-4 Hsu31 GAGTCTAAGCAGAAGAAGAAgAG 2272. 4.37 ± 0.58 N.D. GTCTAAGCAGAAGAAGAAgAG 2273. N.D. N.D. MFAP1
Mutation frequencies were measured by T7EI assay. Means of duplicate measurements are shown with error bars representing standard errors of the mean. *Off-target site OT4_53 is the same as EMX1 target 3 OT31 from Hsu et al., 2013.
Table 3B
Numbers of wild-type (WT) and indel mutation sequencing reads from deep sequencing experiments
SiteControltru-RGNStandard RGN
IndelWTFreq.IndelWTFreq.IndelWTFreq.
VEGFA site 1 45 140169 0.03% 122858 242127 33.66% 150652 410479 26.85%
OT1-3 0 132152 0.00% 1595 205878 0.77% 50973 144895 26.02%
OT1-4 0 133508 0.00% 0 223881 0.00% 22385 240873 8.50%
OT1-6 3 213642 0.00% 339 393124 0.09% 24332 424458 5.21%
OT1-11 1 930894 0.00% 0 274779 0.00% 43738 212212 17.09%
VEGFA site 3 5 212571 0.00% 303913 292413 50.96% 183626 174740 51.24%
OT3-2 1169 162545 0.71% 9415 277616 3.28% 26545 222482 10.66%
OT3-4 7 383006 0.00% 15551 1135673 1.35% 42699 546203 7.25%
OT3-9 73 145367 0.05% 113 227874 0.05% 1923 168293 1.13%
OT3-17 8 460498 0.00% 31 1271276 0.00% 16760 675708 2.42%
OT3-18 7 373571 0.00% 284 1275982 0.02% 72354 599030 10.78%
OT3-20 5 140848 0.00% 593 325162 0.18% 30486 202733 13.07%
EMX1 site 1 1 158838 0.00% 49104 102805 32.32% 128307 307584 29.44%
OT4-1 10 169476 0.01% 13 234039 0.01% 47426 125683 27.40%
OT4-52 2 75156 0.00% 10 231090 0.00% 429 340201 0.13%
OT4-53 0 234069 0.00% 6 367811 0.00% 17421 351667 4.72%
Freq. = frequency of indel mutations = number of indel sequences/number of wild-type sequences. Control gRNA = gRNA lacking a complementarity region
Table 3C
Indel mutation frequencies at potential off-target sites of tru-RGNs targeted to endogenous genes in human cells
Target IDTarget Site + PAMSEQ ID NO:Number of mismatchesIndel mutation frequency (%) ± s.e.m.
U20S.EGFP cellsHEK293 cells
VEGFA Site 1 GTGGGGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2274. 0 (on-target) 23.93 ±4.37 8.34 ± 0.01
  GTGGGGGGAGTTTGCCCCaGG 2275. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGGGGTGTTTGCTCCcGG 2276. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGTGGAGTTTGCTACtGG 2277. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGGGGAGCTTTCTCCtGG 2278. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGTGGCGTTTGCTCCaGG 2279. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGAGGGAGCTTGCTCCtGG 2280. 2 6.88 ± 0.19 Not detected
  GTGGGTGGAGTTTGCTACaGG 2281. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GGGGGGGCAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2282. 2 Not detected Not detected
Target IDTarget Site + PAMSEQ IDNumber of mismatchesIndel mutation frequency (%) ± s.e.m.
  GTGTGGGGAATTTGCTCCaGG 2283. 2 Not detected Not detected
  CTGCTGGGAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2284. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTTGGGAGAGTTTGCTCCaGG 2285. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTGAGGGCAGTTTGCTCCaGG 2286. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTAAGGGAAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2287. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GGGGGTAGAGTTTGCTCCaGG 2288. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GGGTGGGGACTTTGCTCCaGG 2289. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GGGGGAGCAGTTTGCTCCaGG 2290. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTGGGGTTAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2291. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTGAGGGGAGTCTGCTCCaGG 2292. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTGGGGTGATTTTGCTCCtGG 2293. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GAGAGGGGAGTTGGCTCCtGG 2294. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTTGGGGGAGTTTGCCCCaGG 2295. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTCGGGGGAGTTTGCGCCgGG 2296. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTCGGGGGAGTTTGCACCaGG 2297. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTTGGGAGTCTGCTCCaGG 2298. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GAGGGGGCAGGTTGCTCCaGG 2299. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GAGGGGAGAGTTTGTTCCaGG 2300. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGCTGGAGTTTGCTGCtGG 2301. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTCGGGGGAGTGGGCTCCaGG 2302. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GAGGGGGGAGTGTGTTCCgGG 2303. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGTGGGAGCTTGTTCCtGG 2304. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGGGGTGCCTGCTCCaGG 2305. 3 Not detected Not detected
VEGFA Site 3 GAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2306. 0 (on-target) 50.49 ± 1.25 20.05 ± 0.01
  CAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2307. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGgGG 2308. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGaGG 2309. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2310. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2311. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGGGTGTGTGCGTGgGG 2312. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGACTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2313. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGGGTGgGG 2314. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2315. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2316. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGgGG 2317. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2318. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGTGTGCGCGgGG 2319. 1 Not detected Not detected
  CTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGaGG 2320. 2 Not detected Not detected
  ATGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2321. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GCCTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2322. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2323. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGGGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2324. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GCGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2325. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGgGG 2326. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGCGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2327. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGcGG 2328. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGAGAGAGTGTGCGTGtGG 2329. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGTGTGAGTGCGTGgGG 2330. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2331. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGTGTGTATGCGTGtGG 2332. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTCAGTGTGTGAGTGaGG 2333. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGTGTGTGTGAGTGtGG 2334. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGTGTGTGTGCATGtGG 2335. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGAGTGTGTGTGtGG 2336. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GAGTGAGTGAGTGAGTGaGG 2337. 2 Not detected Not detected
EMX1 site GTCCGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2338. 0 (on-target) 43.01 ± 0.87 17.25 ± 0.64
  GTCTGAGCAGAAGAAGAAtGG 2339. 1 Not detected Not detected
  GTCCCAGCAGTAGAAGAAtGG 2340. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTCCGAGGAGAGGAAGAAaGG 2341. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTCAGAGGAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2342. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GACAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2343. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2344. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTACTAGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2345. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTCTGAGCACAAGAAGAAtGG 2346. 2 Not detected Not detected
  GTGCTAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2347. 2 Not detected Not detected
  TACAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAtGG 2348. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TACGGAGCAGAAGAAGAAtGG 2349. 3 Not detected Not detected
  AACGGAGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2350. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GACACAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2351. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTGCGATCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2352. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GACTGGGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2353. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTCCCTGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2354. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTCCTACCAGAAGAAGAAtGG 2355. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTCTGAGGAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2356. 3 Not detected Not detected
  ATCCAATCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2357. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GCCCCTGCAGAAGAAGAAcGG 2358. 3 Not detected Not detected
  ATCCAACCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2359. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GACTGAGAAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2360. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTGGGATCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2361. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GACAGAGAAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2362. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTCATGGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2363. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTTGGAGAAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2364. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTAAGAGAAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2365. 3 Not detected Not detected
  CTCCTAGCAAAAGAAGAAtGG 2366. 3 Not detected Not detected
  TTCAGAGCAGGAGAAGAAtGG 2367. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTTGGAGCAGGAGAAGAAgGG 2368. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GCCTGAGCAGAAGGAGAAgGG 2369. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTCTGAGGACAAGAAGAAtGG 2370. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTCCGGGAAGGAGAAGAAaGG 2371. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GGCCGAGCAGAAGAAAGAcGG 2372. 3 Not detected Not detected
  GTCCTAGCAGGAGAAGAAgAG 2373. 3 Not detected Not detected
 Table 3D: Frequencies of tru-RGN-induced indel mutations at potential off-target sites in human U20S.EGFP as determined by deep sequencing
On-target siteOff-target site sequenceS#tru-RGNControl
IndelWTFreq.IndelWTFreq
VEGFA site 1 GTGGGGGGAGTTTGCCCCaGG 2374. 1500 225640 0.66% 3 135451 0.00%
GTGGGGGGTGTTTGCTCCcGG 2375. 1552 152386 1.01% 0 86206 0.00%
GTGGGTGGAGTTTGCTACtGG 2376. 1 471818 0.00% 0 199581 0.00%
GTGGGTGGAGTTTGCTACaGG 2377. 0 337298 0.00% 1 211547 0.00%
GTGGGTGGCGTTTGCTCCaGG 2378. 2 210174 0.00% 1 105531 0.00%
GTGTGGGGAATTTGCTCCaGG 2379. 673 715547 0.09% 1 387097 0.00%
GTGGGGGGAGCTTTCTCCtGG 2380. 5 107757 0.00% 1 58735 0.00%
GGGGGGGCAGTTTGCTCCtGG 2381. 1914 566548 0.34% 3 297083 0.00%
 
VEGFA site 3 GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2382. 58 324881 0.02% 9 122216 0.01%
GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGaGG 2383. 532 194914 0.27% 11 73644 0.01%
GAGTGGGTGTGTGCGTGgGG 2384. 70 237029 0.03% 10 178258 0.01%
GAGTGACTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2385. 6 391894 0.00% 0 239460 0.00%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGGGTGgGG 2386. 15 160140 0.01% 10 123324 0.01%
GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGgGG 2387. 19 138687 0.01% 1 196271 0.00%
CAGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2388. 78 546865 0.01% 41 355953 0.01%
GTGTGAGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2389. 128 377451 0.03% 56 133978 0.04%
GAGTGTGTGTGTGCGTGtGG 2390. 913 263028 0.35% 78 178979 0.04%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2391. 40 106933 0.04% 36 58812 0.06%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2392. 681 762999 0.09% 63 222451 0.03%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGgGG 2393. 331 220289 0.15% 100 113911 0.09%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGTGTGtGG 2394. 0 35725 0.00% 8 186495 0.00%
GAGTGAGTGTGTGCGCGgGG 2395. 94 246893 0.04% 16 107623 0.01%
 
EMX1 site 1 GTCAGAGGAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2396. 0 201483 0.00% 4 148416 0.00%
GTCAGAGGAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2397. 10 545662 0.00% 5 390884 0.00%
GTCTGAGCACAAGAAGAAtGG 2398. 2 274212 0.00% 0 193837 0.00%
GTCTGAGCAGAAGAAGAAtGG 2399. 440 375646 0.12% 10 256181 0.00%
GACAGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2400. 2 212472 0.00% 1 158860 0.00%
GTACTAGCAGAAGAAGAAaGG 2401. 152 229209 0.07% 103 157717 0.07%
GTGGGAGCAGAAGAAGAAgGG 2402. 50 207401 0.02% 36 111183 0.03%
GTCCCAGCAGTAGAAGAAtGG 2403. 0 226477 0.00% 1 278948 0.00%
S#: SEQ ID NO:

Example 2d. tru-gRNAs can be used with dual Cas9 nickases to efficiently induce genome editing in human cells



[0138] tru-gRNAs were tested with the recently described dual Cas9 nickase approach to induce indel mutations. To do this, the Cas9-D10A nickase together with two full-length gRNAs targeted to sites in the human VEGFA gene (VEGFA site 1 and an additional sequence we refer to as VEGFA site 4) were co-expressed in U20S.EGFP cells (Figure 4A). As described previously (Ran et al., 2013), this pair of nickases functioned cooperatively to induce high rates of indel mutations at the VEGFA target locus (Figure 4B). Interestingly, Cas9-D10A nickase co-expressed with only the gRNA targeted to VEGFA site 4 also induced indel mutations at a high frequency, albeit at a rate somewhat lower than that observed with the paired full-length gRNAs (Figure 4B). Importantly, use of a tru-gRNA for VEGFA site 1 in place of a full-length gRNA did not affect the efficacy of the dual nickase approach to induce indel mutations (Figure 4B).

[0139] The dual nickase strategy has also been used to stimulate the introduction of specific sequence changes using ssODNs (Mali et al., 2013a; Ran et al., 2013) and so whether tru-gRNAs might be used for this type of alteration was also tested. Paired full-length gRNAs for VEGFA sites 1 and 4 together with Cas9-D10A nickase cooperatively enhanced efficient introduction of a short insertion from a ssODN donor (Figure 3A) into the VEGFA locus in human U20S.EGFP cells as expected (Figure 3C). Again, the efficiency of ssODN-mediated sequence alteration by dual nicking remained equally high with the use of a tru-gRNA in place of the full-length gRNA targeted to VEGFA site 1 (Figure 3C). Taken together, these results demonstrate that tru-gRNAs can be utilized as part of a dual Cas9 nickase strategy to induce both indel mutations and ssODN-mediated sequence changes, without compromising the efficiency of genome editing by this approach.

[0140] Having established that use of a tru-gRNA does not diminish the on-target genome editing activities of paired nickases, we next used deep sequencing to examine mutation frequencies at four previously identified bona fide off-target sites of the VEGFA site 1 gRNA. This analysis revealed that mutation rates dropped to essentially undetectable levels at all four of these off-target sites when using paired nickases with a tru-gRNA (Table 4). By contrast, neither a tru-RGN (Table 3B) nor the paired nickases with full-length gRNAs (Table 4) was able to completely eliminate off-target mutations at one of these four off-target sites (OT1-3). These results demonstrate that the use of tru-gRNAs can further reduce the off-target effects of paired Cas9 nickases (and vice versa) without compromising the efficiency of on-target genome editing.
Table 4 Frequencies of paired nickase-induced indel mutations at on- and off-target sites of VEGFA site 1 using full-length and tru-gRNAs
SitePaired full-length gRNAstru-gRNA/full-length gRNAControl
IndelWTFreq.IndelWTFreq.IndelWTFreq.
VEGFA site 1 78905 345696 18.583% 65754 280720 18.978% 170 308478 0.055%
OT1-3 184 85151 0.216% 0 78658 0.000% 2 107850 0.002%
OT1-4 0 89209 0.000% 1 97010 0.001% 0 102135 0.000%
OT1-6 2 226575 0.001% 0 208218 0.000% 0 254580 0.000%
OT1-11 0 124729 0.000% 0 121581 0.000% 0 155173 0.000%

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OTHER EMBODIMENTS



[0142] It is to be understood that while the invention has been described in conjunction with the detailed description thereof, the foregoing description is intended to illustrate and not limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the scope of the appended claims. Other aspects, advantages, and modifications are within the scope of the following claims.


Claims

1. A method of increasing specificity of RNA-guided genome editing in a cell, the method comprising contacting the cell with a Cas9 guide RNA molecule having a target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, wherein the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM).
 
2. A method of inducing a break in a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule in a cell and increasing specificity of RNA-guided genome editing in a cell, the method comprising expressing in or introducing into the cell:

a Cas9 nuclease or a Cas9 nickase; and

a Cas9 guide RNA molecule having a target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17 -18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, wherein the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM).


 
3. A method of modifying a target region of a double-stranded DNA molecule in a cell and increasing specificity of RNA-guided genome editing in a cell, the method comprising expressing in or introducing into the cell:

a dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein (dCas9-HFD) wherein the dCas9 has catalytic inactivating mutations in one or both nuclease domains;

wherein the dCas9-heterologous functional domain fusion protein comprises a heterologous functional domain (HFD) selected from the group consisting of: a HFD that modifies gene expression, histones, or DNA; a transcriptional activation domain; an enzyme that catalyzes DNA demethylation; an enzyme that catalyzes histone modification, or a transcription silencing domain; and

a Cas9 guide RNA molecule having a target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, wherein the target sequence is immediately 5' of a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM).


 
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the transcriptional activation domain is from VP64 or NF-κB p65; or wherein the enzyme that catalyzes histone modification is LSD1, a histone methyltransferase (HNMT), histone acetyltransferase (HAT), histone deacetylase (HDAC), or histone demethylase; or wherein the transcription silencing domain is from Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), e.g., HP1α or HP1β.
 
5. The method of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the Cas9 gRNA consists of the sequence:
(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC, wherein X17-18 is the target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of the selected target genomic sequence.
 
6. The method of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the guide RNA is

(i) a single guide RNA that includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, or

(ii) a crRNA that includes a complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target genomic sequence, and a tracrRNA.


 
7. The method of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the ribonucleic acid includes one or more U at the 3' end of the molecule.
 
8. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the ribonucleic acid includes one or more additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that is not complementary to the target sequence, or wherein the ribonucleic acid includes one, two, or three additional nucleotides at the 5' end of the RNA molecule that are not complementary to the target sequence.
 
9. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the complementarity region is complementary to 17 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence; or wherein the complementarity region is complementary to 18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of a selected target sequence.
 
10. The method of claims 1 to 4, wherein the guide RNA consists of the sequence:

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG;

(X17 18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG;

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUGGAAACAAAACAGCAUAGCAAG UUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUC, wherein X17-18 is the target complementarity region consisting of 17-18 nucleotides that are complementary to 17-18 consecutive nucleotides of the complementary strand of the selected target genomic sequence.


 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren zum Erhöhen der Spezifität von RNA-geführter Genomeditierung in einer Zelle, wobei das Verfahren das Inkontaktbringen der Zelle mit einem Cas9-Führungs-RNA-Molekül umfasst, das eine Ziel-Komplementaritätsregion aufweist, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind, wobei die Zielsequenz unmittelbar 5' eines protospacer-anliegenden Motivs (PAM) ist.
 
2. Verfahren zum Induzieren einer Unterbrechung in einer Zielregion eines doppelsträngigen DNA-Moleküls in einer Zelle und Erhöhen der Spezifität von RNA-geführter Genomeditierung in einer Zelle, wobei das Verfahren das Exprimieren in der oder Einführen in die Zelle von Folgendem umfasst:

einer Cas9-Nuklease oder einer Cas9-Nickase; und

einem Cas9-Führungs-RNA-Molekül, das eine Ziel-Komplementaritätsregion aufweist, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strang einer ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind, wobei die Zielsequenz unmittelbar 5' eines protospacer-anliegenden Motivs (PAM) ist.


 
3. Verfahren zum Modifizieren einer Zielregion eines doppelsträngigen DNA-Moleküls in einer Zelle und Erhöhen der Spezifität von RNA-geführter Genomeditierung in einer Zelle, wobei das Verfahren das Exprimieren in der oder Einführen in die Zelle von Folgendem umfasst:

einem dCas9-heterologen funktionellen Domänen-Fusionsprotein (dCas9-HFD), wobei das dCas9 katalytische inaktivierende Mutationen in einer oder beiden Nuklease-Domänen aufweist;

wobei das dCas9-heterologe funktionelle Domänen-Fusionsprotein eine heterologe funktionelle Domäne (HFD) umfasst, die ausgewählt ist aus der Gruppe bestehend aus:

einer HFD, die Genexpression, Histone oder DNA modifiziert; einer Transkriptionsaktivierungsdomäne; einem Enzym, das DNA-Demethylierung katalysiert;

einem Enzym, das Histon-Modifikation katalysiert, oder einer Transkriptions-Silencing-Domäne; und

einem Cas9-Führungs-RNA-Molekül mit einer Ziel-Komplementaritätsregion bestehend aus 17-18 Nukleotiden, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind, wobei die Zielsequenz unmittelbar 5' eines protospacer-anliegenden Motivs (PAM) ist.


 
4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Transkriptionsaktivierungsdomäne von VP64 oder NF-κB p65 stammt; oder wobei das Enzym, das Histon-Modifikation katalysiert, LSD1, eine Histon-Methyltransferase (HNMT), Histon-Acetyltransferase (HAT), Histon-Deacetylase (HDAC) oder Histon-Demethylase ist; oder wobei die Transkriptions-Silencing-Domäne von Heterochromatin-Protein-1 (HP1), z. B. HP1α oder HP1β, stammt.
 
5. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die Cas9-gRNA aus der folgenden Sequenz besteht:
(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC, wobei X17-18 die Ziel-Komplementaritätsregion ist, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs der ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind.
 
6. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, wobei die Führungs-RNA ist

(i) eine einzelne Führungs-RNA, die eine Komplementaritätsregion beinhaltet, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind, oder

(ii) eine crRNA, die eine Komplementaritätsregion, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind, und eine tracrRNA beinhaltet.


 
7. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei die Ribonukleinsäure ein oder mehrere U am 3'-Ende des Moleküls beinhaltet.
 
8. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 7, wobei die Ribonukleinsäure ein oder mehrere zusätzliche Nukleotide am 5'-Ende des RNA-Moleküls beinhaltet, das nicht komplementär zu der Zielsequenz ist, oder wobei die Ribonukleinsäure ein, zwei oder drei zusätzliche Nukleotide am 5'-Ende des RNA-Moleküls beinhaltet, die nicht komplementär zu der Zielsequenz sind.
 
9. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 7, wobei die Komplementaritätsregion komplementär zu 17 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Zielsequenz ist; oder wobei die Komplementaritätsregion komplementär zu 18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs einer ausgewählten Zielsequenz ist.
 
10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 bis 4, wobei die Führungs-RNA aus der folgenden Sequenz besteht:

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG;

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG;

(X17-18)

GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGAAAAGCAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUC; oder

(X17-18)GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUGGAAACAAAACAGCAUAGCAAG UUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUC, wobei X17-18 die Ziel-Komplementaritätsregion ist, die aus 17-18 Nukleotiden besteht, die komplementär zu 17-18 konsekutiven Nukleotiden des komplementären Strangs der ausgewählten Ziel-Genomsequenz sind.


 


Revendications

1. Procédé d'augmentation de la spécificité d'une modification de génome à guidage ARN dans une cellule, le procédé consistant à mettre en contact la cellule avec une molécule ARN guide Cas9 ayant une région de complémentarité cible constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence génomique cible sélectionnée, dans lequel la séquence cible est immédiatement en 5' d'un motif adjacent protospacer (PAM).
 
2. Procédé d'induction d'une rupture dans une région cible d'une molécule d'ADN double brin dans une cellule et d'augmentation de la spécificité d'une modification de génome à guidage ARN dans une cellule, le procédé consistant à exprimer ou introduire dans la cellule :

une nucléase Cas9 ou une nickase Cas9 ; et

une molécule d'ARN guide Cas9 ayant une région de complémentarité cible constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence génomique cible sélectionnée, dans lequel la séquence cible est immédiatement en 5' d'un motif adjacent protospacer (PAM).


 
3. Procédé de modification d'une région cible d'une molécule d'ADN double brin dans une cellule et d'augmentation de la spécificité d'une modification de génome à guidage ARN dans une cellule, le procédé consistant à exprimer ou introduire dans la cellule :

une protéine de fusion du domaine fonctionnel hétérologue dCas9 (dCas9-HFD) dans lequel le dCas9 a des mutations d'inactivation catalytiques dans un ou les deux domaines de nucléase ;

dans lequel la protéine de fusion du domaine fonctionnel hétérologue dCas9 comprend un domaine fonctionnel hétérologue (HFD) sélectionné dans le groupe constitué par : un HFD qui modifie l'expression génique, des histones ou un ADN ; un domaine d'activation transcriptionnelle ; une enzyme qui catalyse la déméthylation de l'ADN ; une enzyme qui catalyse une modification des histones ou un domaine d'atténuation transcriptionnelle ; et

une molécule d'ARN guide Cas9 ayant une région de complémentarité cible constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence génomique cible sélectionnée, dans lequel la séquence cible est immédiatement en 5' d'un motif adjacent protospacer (PAM).


 
4. Procédé selon la revendication 3, dans lequel le domaine d'activation transcriptionnelle provient de VP64 ou Nf-kB p65 ; ou dans lequel l'enzyme qui catalyse une modification des histones est LSD1, une histone méthyltransférase (HNMT), une histone acétytransférase (HAT), une histone déacétylase (HDAC) ou une histone déméthylase ; ou dans lequel le domaine d'atténuation transcriptionnelle provient de la protéine hétérochromatine 1 (HP1), par ex., HP1α ou HP1β.
 
5. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel l'ARNg Cas9 est constitué de la séquence :
(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUA UCAACUUGAAAAAGUGGCACCGAGUCGGUGC, dans lequel X17-18 est la région de complémentarité cible constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire de la séquence génomique cible sélectionnée.
 
6. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, dans lequel le ARN guide est

(i) un ARN guide unique qui inclut une région de complémentarité constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence génomique cible sélectionnée, ou

(ii) un ARNcr qui inclut une région de complémentarité constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence génomique cible sélectionnée et un ARNtracr.


 
7. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans lequel l'acide ribonucléique inclut un ou plusieurs U à l'extrémité 3' de la molécule.
 
8. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 7, dans lequel l'acide ribonucléique inclut un ou plusieurs nucléotides additionnels à l'extrémité 5' de la molécule ARN qui n'est pas complémentaire de la séquence cible, ou dans lequel l'acide ribonucléique inclut un, deux ou trois nucléotides additionnels à l'extrémité 5' de la molécule ARN qui ne sont pas complémentaires de la séquence cible.
 
9. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 7, dans lequel la région de complémentarité est complémentaire de 17 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence cible sélectionnée ; ou dans lequel la région de complémentarité est complémentaire de 18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire d'une séquence cible sélectionnée.
 
10. Procédé selon les revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel l'ARN guide est constitué de la séquence :

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUG ;

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAGAAAUAGCAAGUUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCG ;

(X17-18) GUUUUAGAGCUAUGCUGUUUUGGAAACAAAACAGCAUAGCAAG UUAAAAUAAGGCUAGUCCGUUAUC, dans lequel X17-18 est la région de complémentarité cible constituée de 17-18 nucléotides qui sont complémentaires de 17-18 nucléotides consécutifs du brin complémentaire de la séquence génomique cible sélectionnée.


 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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