Generation and genetic engineering of human induced pluripotent stem cells using designed zinc finger nucleases

Stem Cells Dev. 2013 Feb 15;22(4):595-610. doi: 10.1089/scd.2012.0245. Epub 2012 Oct 19.


Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) have become powerful tools to deliver a targeted double-strand break at a pre-determined chromosomal locus in order to insert an exogenous transgene by homology-directed repair. ZFN-mediated gene targeting was used to generate both single-allele chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 5 (CCR5)-modified human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and biallele CCR5-modified hiPSCs from human lung fibroblasts (IMR90 cells) and human primary cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMNCs) by site-specific insertion of stem cell transcription factor genes flanked by LoxP sites into the endogenous CCR5 locus. The Oct4 and Sox2 reprogramming factors, in combination with valproic acid, induced reprogramming of human lung fibroblasts to form CCR5-modified hiPSCs, while 5 factors, Oct4/Sox2/Klf4/Lin28/Nanog, induced reprogramming of CBMNCs. Subsequent Cre recombinase treatment of the CCR5-modified IMR90 hiPSCs resulted in the removal of the Oct4 and Sox2 transgenes. Further genetic engineering of the single-allele CCR5-modified IMR90 hiPSCs was achieved by site-specific addition of the large CFTR transcription unit to the remaining CCR5 wild-type allele, using CCR5-specific ZFNs and a donor construct containing tdTomato and CFTR transgenes flanked by CCR5 homology arms. CFTR was expressed efficiently from the endogenous CCR5 locus of the CCR5-modified tdTomato/CFTR hiPSCs. These results suggest that it might be feasible to use ZFN-evoked strategies to (1) generate precisely targeted genetically well-defined patient-specific hiPSCs, and (2) then to reshape their function by targeted addition and expression of therapeutic genes from the CCR5 chromosomal locus for autologous cell-based transgene-correction therapy to treat various recessive monogenic human diseases in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Dedifferentiation*
  • Deoxyribonucleases* / biosynthesis
  • Deoxyribonucleases* / genetics
  • Fibroblasts* / cytology
  • Fibroblasts* / metabolism
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear* / cytology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear* / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors* / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • Zinc Fingers*


  • Transcription Factors
  • Deoxyribonucleases