The use of base editing technology to characterize single nucleotide variants

Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2022 Mar 31;20:1670-1680. doi: 10.1016/j.csbj.2022.03.031. eCollection 2022.


Single nucleotide variants (SNVs) represent the most common type of polymorphism in the human genome. However, in many cases the phenotypic impacts of such variants are not well understood. Intriguingly, while some SNVs cause debilitating diseases, other variants in the same gene may have no, or limited, impact. The mechanisms underlying these complex patterns are difficult to study at scale. Additionally, current data and research is mainly focused on European populations, and the mechanisms underlying genetic traits in other populations are poorly studied. Novel technologies may be able to mitigate this disparity and improve the applicability of personalized healthcare to underserved populations. In this review we discuss base editing technologies and their potential to accelerate progress in this field, particularly in combination with single-cell RNA sequencing. We further explore how base editing screens can help link SNVs to distinct disease phenotypes. We then highlight several studies that take advantage of single-cell RNA sequencing and CRISPR screens to emphasize the current limitations and future potential of this technique. Lastly, we consider the use of such approaches to potentially accelerate the study of genetic mechanisms in non-European populations.

Keywords: Base editing; CRISPR; Screens; Single nucleotide variants; Single-cell RNA sequencing.

Publication types

  • Review