In vitro Generation of CRISPR-Cas9 Complexes with Covalently Bound Repair Templates for Genome Editing in Mammalian Cells

Bio Protoc. 2019 Jan 5;9(1):e3136. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3136.


The CRISPR-Cas9 system is a powerful genome-editing tool that promises application for gene editing therapies. The Cas9 nuclease is directed to the DNA by a programmable single guide (sg)RNA, and introduces a site-specific double-stranded break (DSB). In mammalian cells, DSBs are either repaired by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), generating small insertion/deletion (indel) mutations, or by homology-directed repair (HDR). If ectopic donor templates are provided, the latter mechanism allows editing with single-nucleotide precision. The preference of mammalian cells to repair DSBs by NHEJ rather than HDR, however, limits the potential of CRISPR-Cas9 for applications where precise editing is needed. To enhance the efficiency of DSB repair by HDR from donor templates, we recently engineered a CRISPR-Cas9 system where the template DNA is bound to the Cas9 enzyme. In short, single-stranded oligonucleotides were labeled with O6-benzylguanine (BG), and covalently linked to a Cas9-SNAP-tag fusion protein to form a ribonucleoprotein-DNA (RNPD) complex consisting of the Cas9 nuclease, the sgRNA, and the repair template. Here, we provide a detailed protocol how to generate O6-benzylguanine (BG)-linked DNA repair templates, produce recombinant Cas9-SNAP-tag fusion proteins, in vitro transcribe single guide RNAs, and transfect RNPDs into various mammalian cells.

Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; Enhanced correction; Genome editing; Homology-directed repair; Precise editing; Template linkage.