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Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1114:245-67. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-761-7_16.

CRISPR-Cas-mediated targeted genome editing in human cells.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems have evolved as an adaptive surveillance and defense mechanism in bacteria and archaea that uses short RNAs to direct degradation of foreign genetic elements. Here, we present our protocol for utilizing the S. pyogenes type II bacterial CRISPR system to achieve sequence-specific genome alterations in human cells. In principle, any genomic sequence of the form N₁₉NGG can be targeted with the generation of custom guide RNA (gRNA) which functions to direct the Cas9 protein to genomic targets and induce DNA cleavage. Here, we describe our methods for designing and generating gRNA expression constructs either singly or in a multiplexed manner, as well as optimized protocols for the delivery of Cas9-gRNA components into human cells. Genomic alterations at the target site are then introduced either through nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) or through homologous recombination (HR) in the presence of an appropriate donor sequence. This RNA-guided editing tool offers greater ease of customization and synthesis in comparison to existing sequence-specific endonucleases and promises to become a highly versatile and multiplexable human genome engineering platform.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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