In Vitro CRISPR-Cas12a-Based Detection of Cancer-Associated TP53 Hotspot Mutations Beyond the crRNA Seed Region

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Cost-effective and time-efficient detection of oncogenic mutations supports improved presymptomatic cancer diagnostics and post-treatment disease monitoring. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas12a is an RNA-guided endonuclease that, upon protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-dependent recognition of target DNA in cis, exhibits indiscriminate ssDNase activity in trans, which can be harnessed for diagnostics. TP53, one of the most frequently mutated tumor suppressor genes in cancer, displays recurring point mutations at so-called “hotspots.” In this study, we optimized Cas12a-based assay conditions for in vitro detection of six TP53 hotspot mutations at the codon for p.R273, located outside the Cas12a seed region, and evaluated the specificities of four commercial Cas12a variants. We found that nonengineered LbCas12a significantly outperformed the other tested nucleases specifically in distinguishing mutant p.R273 codons in synthetic DNA, mock cell-free DNA, and tissue biopsies, despite the suboptimal PAM-distal positioning of the corresponding mutations. Future clinical Cas12a-based applications may include point-of-care tumor analysis, cost-effective mutation screening, and improved monitoring of individual cancer patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe CRISPR Journal
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2023


  • Cas12
  • TP53
  • Diagnostics
  • CRISPR diagnostics
  • R273
  • Arg273
  • Seed region
  • Cas12a
  • Cpf1
  • Hotspot mutations
  • Cancer

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