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Precise CRISPR-Cas9 Variants Come in Small Packages

October 01, 2019 / GEN

The CRISPR-Cas9 protein from wild-type Staphylococcus aureus (SaCas9) is a diamond in the rough. The protein has potential because it is small—small enough to fit inside the adeno-associated virus (AAV), a vector commonly used to deliver genome editing components to living cells. Wild-type SaCas9, however, typically lacks high-genome-wide specificity. Consequently, a little cutting and polishing is needed if SaCas9 is to shine in genome editing applications. SaCas9 underwent cutting and polishing—that is, rational engineering—at the Ming Wai Lau Center for Reparative Medicine, a branch of the Karolinska Institutet in Hong Kong. This work, which was carried out by a scientific team led by Zongli Zheng, PhD, an assistant professor at the Karolinska Institutet, resulted in an SaCas9 variant called SaCas9-HF that is significantly more accurate than wild-type SaCas9.