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Mol Vis. 2019 Mar 16;25:174-182. eCollection 2019.

Screening of CRISPR/Cas base editors to target the AMD high-risk Y402H complement factor H variant.

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Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia.
Centre for Eye Research Australia, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Victoria, Australia.
Ophthalmology, Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia.
Department of Ophthalmology, Flinders University, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, Australia.



To evaluate the efficacy of using a CRISPR/Cas-mediated strategy to correct a common high-risk allele that is associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD; rs1061170; NM_000186.3:c.1204T>C; NP_000177.2:p.His402Tyr) in the complement factor H (CFH) gene.


A human embryonic kidney cell line (HEK293A) was engineered to contain the pathogenic risk variant for AMD (HEK293A-CFH). Several different base editor constructs (BE3, SaBE3, SaKKH-BE3, VQR-BE3, and Target-AID) and their respective single-guide RNA (sgRNA) expression cassettes targeting either the pathogenic risk variant allele in the CFH locus or the LacZ gene, as a negative control, were evaluated head-to-head for the incidence of a cytosine-to-thymine nucleotide correction. The base editor construct that showed appreciable editing activity was selected for further assessment in which the base-edited region was subjected to next-generation deep sequencing to quantify on-target and off-target editing efficacy.


The tandem use of the Target-AID base editor and its respective sgRNA demonstrated a base editing efficiency of facilitating a cytosine-to-thymine nucleotide correction in 21.5% of the total sequencing reads. Additionally, the incidence of insertions and deletions (indels) was detected in only 0.15% of the sequencing reads with virtually no off-target effects evident across the top 11 predicted off-target sites containing at least one cytosine in the activity window (n = 3, pooled amplicons).


CRISPR-mediated base editing can be used to facilitate a permanent and stably inherited cytosine-to-thymine nucleotide correction of the rs1061170 SNP in the CFH gene with minimal off-target effects.


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