Design and evaluation of guide RNA transcripts with a 3′-terminal HDV ribozyme to enhance CRISPR-based gene inactivation

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The recently discovered clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cpf1 system, now reclassified as Cas12a, is a DNA-editing platform analogous to the widely used CRISPR-Cas9 system. The Cas12a system exhibits several distinct features over the CRISPR-Cas9 system, such as increased specificity and a smaller gene size to encode the nuclease and the matching CRISPR guide RNA (crRNA), which could mitigate off-target and delivery problems, respectively, described for the Cas9 system. However, the Cas12a system exhibits reduced gene editing efficiency compared to Cas9. A closer inspection of the crRNA sequence raised some uncertainty about the actual 5′ and 3′-ends. RNA Polymerase (Pol) III promoters are generally used for the production of small RNAs with a precise 5′ terminus, but the Pol III enzyme generates small RNAs with 3’ U-tails of variable length. To optimize the CRISPR-Cas12a system, we describe the inclusion of a self-cleaving ribozyme in the vector design to facilitate accurate 3′-end processing of the crRNA transcript to produce precise molecules. This optimized design enhanced not only the gene editing efficiency, but also the activity of the catalytically inactive Cas12a-based CRISPR gene activation platform. We thus generated an improved CRISPR-Cas12a system for more efficient gene editing and gene regulation purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology


  • CRISPR-Cas
  • Cas12a
  • FACS
  • Gene therapy
  • HDV ribozyme
  • Luciferase reporter assay
  • Northern blot
  • Surveyor nuclease assay

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