Controlling genetic heterogeneity in gene-edited hematopoietic stem cells by single-cell expansion

Cell Stem Cell. 2023 Jul 6;30(7):987-1000.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2023.06.002. Epub 2023 Jun 28.


Gene editing using engineered nucleases frequently produces unintended genetic lesions in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Gene-edited HSC cultures thus contain heterogeneous populations, the majority of which either do not carry the desired edit or harbor unwanted mutations. In consequence, transplanting edited HSCs carries the risks of suboptimal efficiency and of unwanted mutations in the graft. Here, we present an approach for expanding gene-edited HSCs at clonal density, allowing for genetic profiling of individual clones before transplantation. We achieved this by developing a defined, polymer-based expansion system and identifying long-term expanding clones within the CD201+CD150+CD48-c-Kit+Sca-1+Lin- population of precultured HSCs. Using the Prkdcscid immunodeficiency model, we demonstrate that we can expand and profile edited HSC clones to check for desired and unintended modifications, including large deletions. Transplantation of Prkdc-corrected HSCs rescued the immunodeficient phenotype. Our ex vivo manipulation platform establishes a paradigm to control genetic heterogeneity in HSC gene editing and therapy.

Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; chemically defined culture; clonal expansion; ex vivo expansion; gene editing; gene therapy; hematopoietic stem cell; regenerative medicine; stem cell culture; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clone Cells
  • Gene Editing*
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Phenotype