Therapeutic Genome Editing With CRISPR/Cas9 in a Humanized Mouse Model Ameliorates α1-antitrypsin Deficiency Phenotype

EBioMedicine. 2018 Mar;29:104-111. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.02.015. Epub 2018 Feb 19.


α1-antitrypsin (AAT) is a circulating serine protease inhibitor secreted from the liver and important in preventing proteolytic neutrophil elastase associated tissue damage, primarily in lungs. In humans, AAT is encoded by the SERPINA1 (hSERPINA1) gene in which a point mutation (commonly referred to as PiZ) causes aggregation of the miss-folded protein in hepatocytes resulting in subsequent liver damage. In an attempt to rescue the pathologic liver phenotype of a mouse model of human AAT deficiency (AATD), we used adenovirus to deliver Cas9 and a guide-RNA (gRNA) molecule targeting hSERPINA1. Our single dose therapeutic gene editing approach completely reverted the phenotype associated with the PiZ mutation, including circulating transaminase and human AAT (hAAT) protein levels, liver fibrosis and protein aggregation. Furthermore, liver histology was significantly improved regarding inflammation and overall morphology in hSERPINA1 gene edited PiZ mice. Genomic analysis confirmed significant disruption to the hSERPINA1 transgene resulting in a reduction of hAAT protein levels and quantitative mRNA analysis showed a reduction in fibrosis and hepatocyte proliferation as a result of editing. Our findings indicate that therapeutic gene editing in hepatocytes is possible in an AATD mouse model.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing; Liver fibrosis; Protein aggregation; α1-antitrypsin deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Editing*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Transgenes
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / blood
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / genetics*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / metabolism
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / genetics*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / metabolism*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / pathology
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / therapy


  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin

Supplementary concepts

  • alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency, Autosomal Recessive