An improved zinc-finger nuclease architecture for highly specific genome editing

Miller JC, Holmes MC, Wang J, Guschin DY, Lee YL, Rupniewski I, Beausejour CM, Waite AJ, Wang NS, Kim KA, Gregory PD, Pabo CO, Rebar EJ
Source: Nat Biotechnol
Publication Date: (2007)
Issue: 25(7): 778-85
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofectorâ„¢ I/II/2b
Genome editing driven by zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) yields high gene-modification efficiencies (>10%) by introducing a recombinogenic double-strand break into the targeted gene. The cleavage event is induced using two custom-designed ZFNs that heterodimerize upon binding DNA to form a catalytically active nuclease complex. Using the current ZFN architecture, however, cleavage-competent homodimers may also form that can limit safety or efficacy via off-target cleavage. Here we develop an improved ZFN architecture that eliminates this problem. Using structure-based design, we engineer two variant ZFNs that efficiently cleave DNA only when paired as a heterodimer. These ZFNs modify a native endogenous locus as efficiently as the parental architecture, but with a >40-fold reduction in homodimer function and much lower levels of genome-wide cleavage. This architecture provides a general means for improving the specificity of ZFNs as gene modification reagents.