Broad Specificity Profiling of TALENs Results in Engineered Nucleases With Improved DNA Cleavage Specificity
Guilinger, John P.
Sander, Jeffry D.
Joung, J. Keith
Liu, David R.
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CitationGuilinger, John P., Vikram Pattanayak, Deepak Reyon, Shengdar Q. Tsai, Jeffry D. Sander, J. Keith Joung, and David R. Liu. 2014. “Broad Specificity Profiling of TALENs Results in Engineered Nucleases With Improved DNA Cleavage Specificity.” Nature methods 11 (4): 429-435. doi:10.1038/nmeth.2845. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2845.
AbstractAlthough transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) can be designed to cleave chosen DNA sequences, TALENs have been shown to have activity against related off-target sequences. To better understand TALEN specificity and engineer TALENs with improved specificity, we profiled 30 unique TALENs with varying target sites, array length, and domain sequences for their ability to cleave any of 1012 potential off-target DNA sequences using in vitro selection and high-throughput sequencing. Computational analysis of the selection results predicted 76 off-target substrates in the human genome, 16 of which were accessible and modified by TALENs in human cells. The results collectively suggest that (i) TALE repeats bind DNA relatively independently; (ii) longer TALENs are more tolerant of mismatches, yet are more specific in a genomic context; and (iii) excessive DNA-binding energy can lead to reduced TALEN specificity in cells. Based on these findings, we engineered a TALEN variant, Q3, that exhibits equal on-target cleavage activity but 10-fold lower average off-target activity in human cells. Our results demonstrate that identifying and mutating residues that contribute to non-specific DNA-binding can yield genome editing reagents with improved DNA specificities.
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