Journal article Open Access

A heterodimer of evolved designer-recombinases precisely excises a human genomic DNA locus

Lansing, Felix; Paszkowski-Rogacz, Maciej; Schmitt, Lukas Theo; Schneider, Paul Martin; Romanos, Teresa Rojo; Sonntag, Jan; Buchholz, Frank


Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) such as the Cre/loxP system are useful genome engineering tools that can be repurposed by altering their DNA-binding specificity. However, SSRs that delete a natural sequence from the human genome have not been reported thus far. Here, we describe the generation of an SSR system that precisely excises a 1.4 kb fragment from the human genome. Through a streamlined process of substrate-linked directed evolution we generated two separate recombinases that, when expressed together, act as a heterodimer to delete a human genomic sequence from chromosome 7. Our data indicates that designer-recombinases can be generated in a manageable timeframe for precision genome editing. A large-scale bioinformatics analysis suggests that around 13% of all human protein-coding genes could be targetable by dual designer-recombinase induced genomic deletion (dDRiGD). We propose that heterospecific designer-recombinases, which work independently of the host DNA repair machinery, represent an efficient and safe alternative to nuclease-based genome editing technologies.

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