Prime editing using CRISPR-Cas12a and circular RNAs in human cells

Nat Biotechnol. 2024 Jan 10. doi: 10.1038/s41587-023-02095-x. Online ahead of print.


Genome editing with prime editors based on CRISPR-Cas9 is limited by the large size of the system and the requirement for a G/C-rich protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM) sequence. Here, we use the smaller Cas12a protein to develop four circular RNA-mediated prime editor (CPE) systems: nickase-dependent CPE (niCPE), nuclease-dependent CPE (nuCPE), split nickase-dependent CPE (sniCPE) and split nuclease-dependent CPE (snuCPE). CPE systems preferentially recognize T-rich genomic regions and possess a potential multiplexing capacity in comparison to corresponding Cas9-based systems. The efficiencies of the nuclease-based systems are up to 10.42%, whereas niCPE and sniCPE reach editing frequencies of up to 24.89% and 40.75% without positive selection in human cells, respectively. A derivative system, called one-sniCPE, combines all three RNA editing components under a single promoter. By arraying CRISPR RNAs for different targets in one circular RNA, we also demonstrate low-efficiency editing of up to four genes simultaneously with the nickase prime editors niCPE and sniCPE.