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Seeger C, Sohn JA
Complete Spectrum of CRISPR/Cas9-induced Mutations on HBV cccDNA
Mol Ther (2016) 24:1258-66.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes chronic infections that cannot yet be cured. The virus persists in infected hepatocytes, because covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), the template for the transcription of viral RNAs, is stable in nondividing cells. Antiviral therapies with nucleoside analogues inhibit HBV DNA synthesis in capsids in the cytoplasm of infected hepatocytes, but do not destroy nuclear cccDNA. Because over 200 million people are still infected, a cure for chronic hepatitis B (CHB) has become one of the major challenges in antiviral therapy. As a first step toward the development of curative therapies, we previously demonstrated that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can be used to functionally inactivate cccDNA derived from infectious HBV. Moreover, some evidence suggests that certain cytokines might induce an APOBEC-mediated cascade leading to the destruction of cccDNA. In this report we investigated whether a combination of the two mechanisms could act synergistically to inactivate cccDNA. Using next generation sequencing (NGS), we determined the complete spectrum of mutations in cccDNA following Cas9 cleavage and repair by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). We found that over 90% of HBV DNA was cleaved by Cas9. In addition our results showed that editing of HBV DNA after Cas9 cleavage is at least 15,000 times more efficient that APOBEC-mediated cytosine deamination following treatment of infected cells with interferon alpha (IFNalpha). We also found that a previously used method to detect cytosine deaminated DNA, termed 3D-PCR, overestimates the amount and frequency of edited HBV DNA. Taken together, our results demonstrated that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is so far the best method to functionally inactivate HBV cccDNA and provide a cure for CHB.
Publication Date: 2016-08-01.
PMCID: PMC5088770
Last updated on Wednesday, February 05, 2020