Cystic fibrosis gene repair: correction of ΔF508 using ZFN and CRISPR/Cas9 guide RNA gene editing tools

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Hollywood, Jennifer A.
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University College Cork
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Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive monogenic disorder caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene with the ΔF508 mutation accounting for approximately 70% of all CF cases worldwide. This thesis investigates whether existing zinc finger nucleases designed in this lab and CRISPR/gRNAs designed in this thesis can mediate efficient homology-directed repair (HDR) with appropriate donor repair plasmids to correct CF-causing mutations in a CF cell line. Firstly, the most common mutation, ΔF508, was corrected using a pair of existing ZFNs, which cleave in intron 9, and the donor repair plasmid pITR-donor-XC, which contains the correct CTT sequence and two unique restriction sites. HDR was initially determined to be <1% but further analysis by next generation sequencing (NGS) revealed HDR occurred at a level of 2%. This relatively low level of repair was determined to be a consequence of distance from the cut site to the mutation and so rather than designing a new pair of ZFNs, the position of the existing intron 9 ZFNs was exploited and attempts made to correct >80% of CF-causing mutations. The ZFN cut site was used as the site for HDR of a mini-gene construct comprising exons 10-24 from CFTR cDNA (with appropriate splice acceptor and poly A sites) to allow production of full length corrected CFTR mRNA. Finally, the ability to cleave closer to the mutation and mediate repair of CFTR using the latest gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 was explored. Two CRISPR gRNAs were tested; CRISPR ex10 was shown to cleave at an efficiency of 15% and CRISPR in9 cleaved at 3%. Both CRISPR gRNAs mediated HDR with appropriate donor plasmids at a rate of ~1% as determined by NGS. This is the first evidence of CRISPR induced HDR in CF cell lines.
CFTR , ZFN , CRISPR/Cas9 , Gene editing
Hollywood, J. 2013. Cystic fibrosis gene repair: correction of ΔF508 using ZFN and CRISPR/Cas9 guide RNA gene editing tools. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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