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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 May;39(10):4330-9. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr022. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

Comprehensive computational design of mCreI homing endonuclease cleavage specificity for genome engineering.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical InstituteUniversity of Washington, Box 357705, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Homing endonucleases (HEs) cleave long (∼ 20 bp) DNA target sites with high site specificity to catalyze the lateral transfer of parasitic DNA elements. In order to determine whether comprehensive computational design could be used as a general strategy to engineer new HE target site specificities, we used RosettaDesign (RD) to generate 3200 different variants of the mCreI LAGLIDADG HE towards 16 different base pair positions in the 22 bp mCreI target site. Experimental verification of a range of these designs demonstrated that over 2/3 (24 of 35 designs, 69%) had the intended new site specificity, and that 14 of the 15 attempted specificity shifts (93%) were achieved. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using structure-based computational design to engineer HE variants with novel target site specificities to facilitate genome engineering.

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