The development of highly efficient genome engineering reagents is of paramount importance to launch the next wave of biotechnology. TAL effectors have been developed as an adaptable DNA binding scaffold that can be engineered to bind to any user-defined sequence. Thus, TAL-based DNA binding modules have been used to generate chimeric proteins for a variety of targeted genome modifications across eukaryotic species. For example, TAL effectors fused to the catalytic domain of FokI endonuclease (TALENs) were used to generate site-specific double strand breaks (DSBs), the repair of which can be harnessed to dictate user-desired, genome-editing outcomes. To cleave DNA, FokI endonuclease must dimerize which can be achieved using a pair of TALENs that bind to the DNA targeted in a tail-to-tail orientation with proper spacing allowing the dimer formation. Because TALENs binding to DNA are dependent on their repeat sequences and nucleotides binding specificities, homodimers and heterodimers binding can be formed. In the present study, we used several TALEN monomers with increased repeats binding degeneracy to allow homodimer formation at increased number of genomic loci. We assessed their binding specificities and genome modification activities. Our results indicate that homodimeric TALENs could be used to modify the yeast genome in a site-specific manner and their binding to the promoter regions might modulate the expression of target genes. Taken together, our data indicate that homodimeric TALENs could be used to achieve different engineering possibilities of biotechnological applications and that their transcriptional modulations need to be considered when analyzing their phenotypic effects. © 2013 Springer-Verlag.
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