Journal of biotechnology

Fusion of SpCas9 to E. coli Rec A protein enhances CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene knockout in mammalian cells.

PMID 28259533


Mammalian cells repair double-strand DNA breaks (DSB) by a range of different pathways following DSB induction by the engineered clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein Cas9. While CRISPR-Cas9 thus enables predesigned modifications of the genome, applications of CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome-editing are frequently hampered by the unpredictable and varying pathways for DSB repair in mammalian cells. Here we present a strategy of fusing Cas9 to recombinant proteins for fine-tuning of the DSB repair preferences in mammalian cells. By fusing Streptococcus Pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) to the recombinant protein A (Rec A, NP_417179.1) from Escherichia coli, we create a recombinant Cas9 protein (rSpCas9) which enhances the generation of indel mutations at DSB sites in mammalian cells, increases the frequency of DSB repair by homology-directed single-strand annealing (SSA), and represses homology-directed gene conversion by approximately 33%. Our study thus proves for the first time that fusing SpCas9 to recombinant proteins can influence the balance between DSB repair pathways in mammalian cells. This approach may form the basis for further investigations of the applications of recombinant Cas9 proteins to fine-tuning DSB repair pathways in eukaryotic cells.