HK022 bacteriophage Integrase mediated RMCE as a potential tool for human gene therapy

Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Dec 16;48(22):12804-12816. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa1140.


HK022 coliphage site-specific recombinase Integrase (Int) can catalyze integrative site-specific recombination and recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) reactions in mammalian cell cultures. Owing to the promiscuity of the 7 bp overlap sequence in its att sites, active 'attB' sites flanking human deleterious mutations were previously identified that may serve as substrates for RMCE reactions for future potential gene therapy. However, the wild type Int proved inefficient in catalyzing such RMCE reactions. To address this low efficiency, variants of Int were constructed and examined by integrative site-specific recombination and RMCE assays in human cells using native 'attB' sites. As a proof of concept, various Int derivatives have demonstrated successful RMCE reactions using a pair of native 'attB' sites that were inserted as a substrate into the human genome. Moreover, successful RMCE reactions were demonstrated in native locations of the human CTNS and DMD genes whose mutations are responsible for Cystinosis and Duchene Muscular Dystrophy diseases, respectively. This work provides a steppingstone for potential downstream therapeutic applications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage HK022 / enzymology
  • Bacteriophage HK022 / genetics*
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / genetics
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Integrases / genetics*
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*


  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • Integrases
  • Site-specific recombinase