Efficient fdCas9 Synthetic Endonuclease with Improved Specificity for Precise Genome Engineering
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
The Cas9 endonuclease is used for genome editing applications in diverse eukaryotic species. A high frequency of off-target activity has been reported in many cell types, limiting its applications to genome engineering, especially in genomic medicine. Here, we generated a synthetic chimeric protein between the catalytic domain of the FokI endonuclease and the catalytically inactive Cas9 protein (fdCas9). A pair of guide RNAs (gRNAs) that bind to sense and antisense strands with a defined spacer sequence range can be used to form a catalytically active dimeric fdCas9 protein and generate double-strand breaks (DSBs) within the spacer sequence. Our data demonstrate an improved catalytic activity of the fdCas9 endonuclease, with a spacer range of 15–39 nucleotides, on surrogate reporters and genomic targets. Furthermore, we observed no detectable fdCas9 activity at known Cas9 off-target sites. Taken together, our data suggest that the fdCas9 endonuclease variant is a superior platform for genome editing applications in eukaryotic systems including mammalian cells.