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CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing of splicing mutation causing congenital hearing loss

Ryu, Nari, Kim, Min-A, Choi, Deok-Gyun, Kim, Ye-Ri, Sonn, Jong Kyung, Lee, Kyu-Yup, Kim, Un-Kyung
Gene 2019 v.703 pp. 83-90
RNA, Staphylococcus aureus, exons, fibroblasts, gene editing, gene therapy, genomics, hearing disorders, introns, loci, mice, mutation, plasmids
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system has ushered in a new era of gene therapy. In this study, we aimed to demonstrate precise CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing of the splicing mutation c.919-2A > G in intron 7 of the SLC26A4 gene, which is the second most common causative gene of congenital hearing loss. We designed candidate single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) aimed to direct the targeting of Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 to either exon 7 or exon 8 of SLC26A4. Several of the designed sgRNAs showed targeting activity, with average indel efficiencies ranging from approximately 14% to 25%. The usage of dual sgRNAs delivered both into Neuro2a cells and primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts resulted in the successful removal of large genomic fragments within the target locus. We subsequently evaluated genome editing in the presence of artificial donor templates to induce precise target modification via homology-directed repair. Using this approach, two different donor plasmids successfully introduced silent mutations within the c.919-2A region of Slc26a4 without evident off-target activities. Overall, these results indicate that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated correction of mutations in the Slc26a4 gene is a feasible therapeutic option for restoration of hearing loss.