ON-Target Adverse Events of CRISPR-Cas9 Nuclease: More Chaotic than Expected

CRISPR J. 2022 Feb;5(1):19-30. doi: 10.1089/crispr.2021.0120. Epub 2022 Jan 28.


CRISPR-Cas9 is a highly promising technology for clinical development. However, this powerful tool can induce adverse genomic events. The off-target genotoxicity is well described, predictable, detectable, and resolved by the use of new generations of Cas9 nucleases with high fidelity. In contrast, the ON-target genotoxicity due to a DNA double-strand break at the targeted locus is still underestimated. Here, we review several genomic outcomes induced by CRISPR-Cas9 from the insertion/deletion of a few bases to megabase-scale rearrangements. We hope to highlight this barely detectable complex safety concern to promote further studies to understand the mechanisms better, to detect these unwanted events, and to prevent them for the safety management of future CRISPR-Cas9 clinical trials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems* / genetics
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • Endonucleases / genetics
  • Gene Editing*
  • Genomics


  • Endonucleases