CRISPR-free base editors with enhanced activity and expanded targeting scope in mitochondrial and nuclear DNA

Nat Biotechnol. 2022 Sep;40(9):1378-1387. doi: 10.1038/s41587-022-01256-8. Epub 2022 Apr 4.


The all-protein cytosine base editor DdCBE uses TALE proteins and a double-stranded DNA-specific cytidine deaminase (DddA) to mediate targeted C•G-to-T•A editing. To improve editing efficiency and overcome the strict TC sequence-context constraint of DddA, we used phage-assisted non-continuous and continuous evolution to evolve DddA variants with improved activity and expanded targeting scope. Compared to canonical DdCBEs, base editors with evolved DddA6 improved mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) editing efficiencies at TC by 3.3-fold on average. DdCBEs containing evolved DddA11 offered a broadened HC (H = A, C or T) sequence compatibility for both mitochondrial and nuclear base editing, increasing average editing efficiencies at AC and CC targets from less than 10% for canonical DdCBE to 15-30% and up to 50% in cell populations sorted to express both halves of DdCBE. We used these evolved DdCBEs to efficiently install disease-associated mtDNA mutations in human cells at non-TC target sites. DddA6 and DddA11 substantially increase the effectiveness and applicability of all-protein base editing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Cytidine Deaminase / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gene Editing*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Cytidine Deaminase