October 23, 2019  |  

Simultaneous non-contiguous deletions using large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases.

Toward achieving rapid and large scale genome modification directly in a target organism, we have developed a new genome engineering strategy that uses a combination of bioinformatics aided design, large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases. Using Cre recombinase we swapped a target 126-kb segment of the Escherichia coli genome with a 72-kb synthetic DNA cassette, thereby effectively eliminating over 54 kb of genomic DNA from three non-contiguous regions in a single recombination event. We observed complete replacement of the native sequence with the modified synthetic sequence through the action of the Cre recombinase and no competition from homologous recombination. Because of the versatility and high-efficiency of the Cre-lox system, this method can be used in any organism where this system is functional as well as adapted to use with other highly precise genome engineering systems. Compared to present-day iterative approaches in genome engineering, we anticipate this method will greatly speed up the creation of reduced, modularized and optimized genomes through the integration of deletion analyses data, transcriptomics, synthetic biology and site-specific recombination. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


October 23, 2019  |  

Vector design Tour de Force: integrating combinatorial and rational approaches to derive novel adeno-associated virus variants.

Methodologies to improve existing adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapy include either rational approaches or directed evolution to derive capsid variants characterized by superior transduction efficiencies in targeted tissues. Here, we integrated both approaches in one unified design strategy of “virtual family shuffling” to derive a combinatorial capsid library whereby only variable regions on the surface of the capsid are modified. Individual sublibraries were first assembled in order to preselect compatible amino acid residues within restricted surface-exposed regions to minimize the generation of dead-end variants. Subsequently, the successful families were interbred to derive a combined library of ~8?×?10(5) complexity. Next-generation sequencing of the packaged viral DNA revealed capsid surface areas susceptible to directed evolution, thus providing guidance for future designs. We demonstrated the utility of the library by deriving an AAV2-based vector characterized by a 20-fold higher transduction efficiency in murine liver, now equivalent to that of AAV8.


September 22, 2019  |  

Reduction of nonspecificity motifs in synthetic antibody libraries.

Successful antibody development requires both functional binding and desirable biophysical characteristics. In the current study, we analyze the causes of one hurdle to clinical development, off-target reactivity, or nonspecificity. We used a high-throughput nonspecificity assay to isolate panels of nonspecific antibodies from two synthetic single-chain variable fragment libraries expressed on the surface of yeast, identifying both individual amino acids and motifs within the complementarity-determining regions which contribute to the phenotype. We find enrichment of glycine, valine, and arginine as both individual amino acids and as a part of motifs, and additionally enrichment of motifs containing tryptophan. Insertion of any of these motifs into the complementarity-determining region H3 of a “clean” antibody increased its nonspecificity, with greatest increases in antibodies containing Trp or Val motifs. We next applied these rules to the creation of a synthetic diversity library based on natural frameworks with significantly decreased incorporation of such motifs and demonstrated its ability to isolate binders to a wide panel of antigens. This work both provides a greater understanding of the drivers of nonspecificity and provides design rules to increase efficiency in the isolation of antibodies with drug-like properties. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Pol V-mediated translesion synthesis elicits localized untargeted mutagenesis during post-replicative gap repair.

In vivo, replication forks proceed beyond replication-blocking lesions by way of downstream repriming, generating daughter strand gaps that are subsequently processed by post-replicative repair pathways such as homologous recombination and translesion synthesis (TLS). The way these gaps are filled during TLS is presently unknown. The structure of gap repair synthesis was assessed by sequencing large collections of single DNA molecules that underwent specific TLS events in vivo. The higher error frequency of specialized relative to replicative polymerases allowed us to visualize gap-filling events at high resolution. Unexpectedly, the data reveal that a specialized polymerase, Pol V, synthesizes stretches of DNA both upstream and downstream of a site-specific DNA lesion. Pol V-mediated untargeted mutations are thus spread over several hundred nucleotides, strongly eliciting genetic instability on either side of a given lesion. Consequently, post-replicative gap repair may be a source of untargeted mutations critical for gene diversification in adaptation and evolution. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

De novo assembly, delivery and expression of a 101 kb human gene in mouse cells

Design and large-scale synthesis of DNA has been applied to the functional study of viral and microbial genomes. New and expanded technology development is required to unlock the transformative potential of such bottom-up approaches to the study of larger, mammalian genomes. Two major challenges include assembling and delivering long DNA sequences. Here we describe a pipeline for de novo DNA assembly and delivery that enables functional evaluation of mammalian genes on the length scale of 100 kb. The DNA assembly step is supported by an integrated robotic workcell. We assemble the 101 kb human HPRT1 gene in yeast, deliver it to mouse cells, and show expression of the human protein from its full-length gene. This pipeline provides a framework for producing systematic, designer variants of any mammalian gene locus for functional evaluation in cells.


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