Multiplexed Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Specific Paired RNA-Guided Cas9 Nickases Inactivate Proviral DNA.

TitleMultiplexed Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Specific Paired RNA-Guided Cas9 Nickases Inactivate Proviral DNA.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSmith, LM, Ladner, JT, Hodara, VL, Parodi, LM, Harris, RA, Callery, JE, Lai, Z, Zou, Y, Raveedran, M, Rogers, J, Giavedoni, LD
JournalJ Virol
Date Published2021 Nov 09
KeywordsAnimals, CRISPR-Cas Systems, Deoxyribonuclease I, DNA, Endonucleases, Gene Editing, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Macaca mulatta, Mutagenesis, Plasmids, Proviruses, RNA, Guide, Kinetoplastida, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus

Human and simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV and SIV) infections establish lifelong reservoirs of cells harboring an integrated proviral genome. Genome editing CRISPR-associated Cas9 nucleases, combined with SIV-specific guiding RNA (gRNA) molecules, inactivate integrated provirus DNA and in animal models. We generated RNA-guided Cas9 nucleases (RGNu) and nickases (RGNi) targeting conserved SIV regions with no homology in the human or rhesus macaque genome. Assays in cells cotransfected with SIV provirus and plasmids coding for RGNus identified SIV long terminal repeat (LTR), -activation response (TAR) element, and ribosome slip site (RSS) regions as the most effective at virus suppression; RGNi targeting these regions inhibited virus production significantly. Multiplex plasmids that coexpressed these three RGNu (Nu3), or six (three pairs) RGNi (Ni6), were more efficient at virus suppression than any combination of individual RGNu and RGNi plasmids. Both Nu3 and Ni6 plasmids were tested in lymphoid cells chronically infected with SIV, and whole-genome sequencing was used to determine on- and off-target mutations. Treatment with these all-in-one plasmids resulted in similar levels of mutations of viral sequences from the cellular genome; Nu3 induced indels at the 3 SIV-specific sites, whereas for Ni6 indels were present at the LTR and TAR sites. Levels of off-target effects detected by two different algorithms were indistinguishable from background mutations. In summary, we demonstrate that Cas9 nickase in association with gRNA pairs can specifically eliminate parts of the integrated provirus DNA; also, we show that careful design of an all-in-one plasmid coding for 3 gRNAs and Cas9 nuclease inhibits SIV production with undetectable off-target mutations, making these tools a desirable prospect for moving into animal studies. Our approach to HIV cure, utilizing the translatable SIV/rhesus macaque model system, aims at provirus inactivation and its removal with the least possible off-target side effects. We developed single molecules that delivered either three truncated SIV-specific gRNAs along with Cas9 nuclease or three pairs of SIV-specific gRNAs (six individual gRNAs) along with Cas9 nickase to enhance efficacy of on-target mutagenesis. Whole-genome sequencing demonstrated effective SIV sequence mutation and inactivation and the absence of demonstrable off-target mutations. These results open the possibility to employ Cas9 variants that introduce single-strand DNA breaks to eliminate integrated proviral DNA.

Alternate JournalJ Virol
PubMed ID34549979
PubMed Central IDPMC8577357
Grant ListP51 OD011133 / OD / NIH HHS / United States
UL1 TR001120 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
P51 OD011133 / CD / ODCDC CDC HHS / United States

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