Scientific reports

A combinational CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing approach can halt HIV replication and prevent viral escape.

PMID 28176813


HIV presents one of the highest evolutionary rates ever detected and combination antiretroviral therapy is needed to overcome the plasticity of the virus population and control viral replication. Conventional treatments lack the ability to clear the latent reservoir, which remains the major obstacle towards a cure. Novel strategies, such as CRISPR/Cas9 gRNA-based genome-editing, can permanently disrupt the HIV genome. However, HIV genome-editing may accelerate viral escape, questioning the feasibility of the approach. Here, we demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of single HIV loci, only partially inhibits HIV replication and facilitates rapid viral escape at the target site. A combinatorial approach of two strong gRNAs targeting different regions of the HIV genome can completely abrogate viral replication and prevent viral escape. Our data shows that the accelerating effect of gene-editing on viral escape can be overcome and as such gene-editing may provide a future alternative for control of HIV-infection.