Background: Most single nucleotide variants (SNVs) occur in noncoding sequence where millions of transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) reside. Here, a comparative analysis of CRISPR-mediated homology-directed repair (HDR) versus the recently reported prime editing 2 (PE2) system was carried out in mice over a TFBS called a CArG box in the Tspan2 promoter.
Results: Quantitative RT-PCR showed loss of Tspan2 mRNA in aorta and bladder, but not heart or brain, of mice homozygous for an HDR-mediated three base pair substitution in the Tspan2 CArG box. Using the same protospacer, mice homozygous for a PE2-mediated single-base substitution in the Tspan2 CArG box displayed similar cell-specific loss of Tspan2 mRNA; expression of an overlapping long noncoding RNA was also nearly abolished in aorta and bladder. Immuno-RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization validated loss of Tspan2 in vascular smooth muscle cells of HDR and PE2 CArG box mutant mice. Targeted sequencing demonstrated variable frequencies of on-target editing in all PE2 and HDR founders. However, whereas no on-target indels were detected in any of the PE2 founders, all HDR founders showed varying levels of on-target indels. Off-target analysis by targeted sequencing revealed mutations in many HDR founders, but none in PE2 founders.
Conclusions: PE2 directs high-fidelity editing of a single base in a TFBS leading to cell-specific loss in expression of an mRNA/long noncoding RNA gene pair. The PE2 platform expands the genome editing toolbox for modeling and correcting relevant noncoding SNVs in the mouse.
Keywords: CRISPR; Gene expression; Genome editing; Mouse; Prime editing; Transcription.