Mutations in the CFTR gene that lead to premature stop codons or splicing defects cause cystic fibrosis (CF) and are not amenable to treatment by small-molecule modulators. Here, we investigate the use of adenine base editor (ABE) ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) that convert A•T to G•C base pairs as a therapeutic strategy for three CF-causing mutations. Using ABE RNPs, we corrected in human airway epithelial cells premature stop codon mutations (R553X and W1282X) and a splice-site mutation (3849 + 10 kb C > T). Following ABE delivery, DNA sequencing revealed correction of these pathogenic mutations at efficiencies that reached 38-82% with minimal bystander edits or indels. This range of editing was sufficient to attain functional correction of CFTR-dependent anion channel activity in primary epithelial cells from CF patients and in a CF patient-derived cell line. These results demonstrate the utility of base editor RNPs to repair CFTR mutations that are not currently treatable with approved therapeutics.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.