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J Mol Biol. 2006 Jan 20;355(3):443-58. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

Engineering of large numbers of highly specific homing endonucleases that induce recombination on novel DNA targets.

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CELLECTIS S.A., 102 route de Noisy 93235 Romainville, France.


The last decade has seen the emergence of a universal method for precise and efficient genome engineering. This method relies on the use of sequence-specific endonucleases such as homing endonucleases. The structures of several of these proteins are known, allowing for site-directed mutagenesis of residues essential for DNA binding. Here, we show that a semi-rational approach can be used to derive hundreds of novel proteins from I-CreI, a homing endonuclease from the LAGLIDADG family. These novel endonucleases display a wide range of cleavage patterns in yeast and mammalian cells that in most cases are highly specific and distinct from I-CreI. Second, rules for protein/DNA interaction can be inferred from statistical analysis. Third, novel endonucleases can be combined to create heterodimeric protein species, thereby greatly enhancing the number of potential targets. These results describe a straightforward approach for engineering novel endonucleases with tailored specificities, while preserving the activity and specificity of natural homing endonucleases, and thereby deliver new tools for genome engineering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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