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Jan 2006 Journal of molecular biology

Engineering of large numbers of highly specific homing endonucleases that induce recombination on novel DNA targets.


Arnould S, Chames P, Perez C, Lacroix E, Duclert A, Epinat JC, Stricher F, Petit AS, Patin A, Guillier S, Rolland S, Prieto J, Blanco FJ, Bravo J, Montoya G, Duchateau P, Pâques F


The last decade has seen the emergence of a universal method for precise and efficient genome engineering. This method relies on the use of sequence-specific endonucleases such as homing endonucleases. The structures of several of these proteins are known, allowing for site-directed mutagenesis of residues essential for DNA binding. Here, we show that a semi-rational approach can be used to derive hundreds of novel proteins from I-CreI, a homing endonuclease from the LAGLIDADG family. These novel endonucleases display a wide range of cleavage patterns in yeast and mammalian cells that in most cases are highly specific and distinct from I-CreI. Second, rules for protein/DNA interaction can be inferred from statistical analysis. Third, novel endonucleases can be combined to create heterodimeric protein species, thereby greatly enhancing the number of potential targets. These results describe a straightforward approach for engineering novel endonucleases with tailored specificities, while preserving the activity and specificity of natural homing endonucleases, and thereby deliver new tools for genome engineering.

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