Spatiotemporal control of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2021 Jun 20;6(1):238. doi: 10.1038/s41392-021-00645-w.


The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9) gene editing technology, as a revolutionary breakthrough in genetic engineering, offers a promising platform to improve the treatment of various genetic and infectious diseases because of its simple design and powerful ability to edit different loci simultaneously. However, failure to conduct precise gene editing in specific tissues or cells within a certain time may result in undesirable consequences, such as serious off-target effects, representing a critical challenge for the clinical translation of the technology. Recently, some emerging strategies using genetic regulation, chemical and physical strategies to regulate the activity of CRISPR/Cas9 have shown promising results in the improvement of spatiotemporal controllability. Herein, in this review, we first summarize the latest progress of these advanced strategies involving cell-specific promoters, small-molecule activation and inhibition, bioresponsive delivery carriers, and optical/thermal/ultrasonic/magnetic activation. Next, we highlight the advantages and disadvantages of various strategies and discuss their obstacles and limitations in clinical translation. Finally, we propose viewpoints on directions that can be explored to further improve the spatiotemporal operability of CRISPR/Cas9.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Gene Editing*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans