Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy

CRISPR/Cas9-Induced (CTG⋅CAG)n Repeat Instability in the Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 Locus: Implications for Therapeutic Genome Editing.

PMID 28129118


Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by (CTG⋅CAG)n-repeat expansion within the DMPK gene and thought to be mediated by a toxic RNA gain of function. Current attempts to develop therapy for this disease mainly aim at destroying or blocking abnormal properties of mutant DMPK (CUG)n RNA. Here, we explored a DNA-directed strategy and demonstrate that single clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9-cleavage in either its 5' or 3' unique flank promotes uncontrollable deletion of large segments from the expanded trinucleotide repeat, rather than formation of short indels usually seen after double-strand break repair. Complete and precise excision of the repeat tract from normal and large expanded DMPK alleles in myoblasts from unaffected individuals, DM1 patients, and a DM1 mouse model could be achieved at high frequency by dual CRISPR/Cas9-cleavage at either side of the (CTG⋅CAG)n sequence. Importantly, removal of the repeat appeared to have no detrimental effects on the expression of genes in the DM1 locus. Moreover, myogenic capacity, nucleocytoplasmic distribution, and abnormal RNP-binding behavior of transcripts from the edited DMPK gene were normalized. Dual sgRNA-guided excision of the (CTG⋅CAG)n tract by CRISPR/Cas9 technology is applicable for developing isogenic cell lines for research and may provide new therapeutic opportunities for patients with DM1.