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Hum Gene Ther. 2018 Nov;29(11):1264-1276. doi: 10.1089/hum.2018.018. Epub 2018 May 9.

CRISPR/Cas9 Inhibits Multiple Steps of HIV-1 Infection.

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1 MOH Key Laboratory of Systems Biology of Pathogens, Institute of Pathogen Biology, and Center for AIDS Research, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, P.R. China .
2 Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, P.R. China .
3 McGill University AIDS Centre , Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Canada .


CRISPR/Cas9 is an adaptive immune system where bacteria and archaea have evolved to resist the invading viruses and plasmid DNA by creating site-specific double-strand breaks in DNA. This study tested this gene editing system in inhibiting human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection by targeting the viral long terminal repeat and the gene coding sequences. Strong inhibition of HIV-1 infection by Cas9/gRNA was observed, which resulted not only from insertions and deletions (indels) that were introduced into viral DNA due to Cas9 cleavage, but also from the marked decrease in the levels of the late viral DNA products and the integrated viral DNA. This latter defect might have reflected the degradation of viral DNA that has not been immediately repaired after Cas9 cleavage. It was further observed that Cas9, when solely located in the cytoplasm, inhibits HIV-1 as strongly as the nuclear Cas9, except that the cytoplasmic Cas9 does not act on the integrated HIV-1 DNA and thus cannot be used to excise the latent provirus. Together, the results suggest that Cas9/gRNA is able to target and edit HIV-1 DNA both in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus. The inhibitory effect of Cas9 on HIV-1 is attributed to both the indels in viral DNA and the reduction in the levels of viral DNA.


CRISPR/Cas9; HIV-1; gene therapy; genome editing; viral infection


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