Highly efficient homology-driven genome editing in human T cells by combining zinc-finger nuclease mRNA and AAV6 donor delivery

Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Feb 18;44(3):e30. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv1121. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


The adoptive transfer of engineered T cells for the treatment of cancer, autoimmunity, and infectious disease is a rapidly growing field that has shown great promise in recent clinical trials. Nuclease-driven genome editing provides a method in which to precisely target genetic changes to further enhance T cell function in vivo. We describe the development of a highly efficient method to genome edit both primary human CD8 and CD4 T cells by homology-directed repair at a pre-defined site of the genome. Two different homology donor templates were evaluated, representing both minor gene editing events (restriction site insertion) to mimic gene correction, or the more significant insertion of a larger gene cassette. By combining zinc finger nuclease mRNA delivery with AAV6 delivery of a homologous donor we could gene correct 41% of CCR5 or 55% of PPP1R12C (AAVS1) alleles in CD8(+) T cells and gene targeting of a GFP transgene cassette in >40% of CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells at both the CCR5 and AAVS1 safe harbor locus, potentially providing a robust genome editing tool for T cell-based immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Endonucleases / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Transfection*
  • Zinc Fingers*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Endonucleases