The origin of unwanted editing byproducts in gene editing

Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2022 May 25;54(6):767-781. doi: 10.3724/abbs.2022056.


The rapid development of CRISPR-Cas genome editing tools has greatly changed the way to conduct research and holds tremendous promise for clinical applications. During genome editing, CRISPR-Cas enzymes induce DNA breaks at the target sites and subsequently the DNA repair pathways are recruited to generate diverse editing outcomes. Besides off-target cleavage, unwanted editing outcomes including chromosomal structural variations and exogenous DNA integrations have recently raised concerns for clinical safety. To eliminate these unwanted editing byproducts, we need to explore the underlying mechanisms for the formation of diverse editing outcomes from the perspective of DNA repair. Here, we describe the involved DNA repair pathways in sealing Cas enzyme-induced DNA double-stranded breaks and discuss the origins and effects of unwanted editing byproducts on genome stability. Furthermore, we propose the potential risk of inhibiting DNA repair pathways to enhance gene editing. The recent combined studies of DNA repair and CRISPR-Cas editing provide a framework for further optimizing genome editing to enhance editing safety.

Keywords: DSB repair; PEM-seq; chromosomal translocation; genome editing and CRISPR/Cas; large deletion; vector DNA integration.

MeSH terms

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


  • DNA