Targeted gene knock-in by homology-directed genome editing using Cas9 ribonucleoprotein and AAV donor delivery

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jun 20;45(11):e98. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx154.


Realizing the full potential of genome editing requires the development of efficient and broadly applicable methods for delivering programmable nucleases and donor templates for homology-directed repair (HDR). The RNA-guided Cas9 endonuclease can be introduced into cells as a purified protein in complex with a single guide RNA (sgRNA). Such ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) can facilitate the high-fidelity introduction of single-base substitutions via HDR following co-delivery with a single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide. However, combining RNPs with transgene-containing donor templates for targeted gene addition has proven challenging, which in turn has limited the capabilities of the RNP-mediated genome editing toolbox. Here, we demonstrate that combining RNP delivery with naturally recombinogenic adeno-associated virus (AAV) donor vectors enables site-specific gene insertion by homology-directed genome editing. Compared to conventional plasmid-based expression vectors and donor templates, we show that combining RNP and AAV donor delivery increases the efficiency of gene addition by up to 12-fold, enabling the creation of lineage reporters that can be used to track the conversion of striatal neurons from human fibroblasts in real time. These results thus illustrate the potential for unifying nuclease protein delivery with AAV donor vectors for homology-directed genome editing.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Base Sequence
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Endonucleases / chemistry*
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Genome, Human
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • Cas9 endonuclease Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Endonucleases