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Mechanistic Insights into the cis- and trans-Acting DNase Activities of Cas12a


Swarts, Daan C; Jinek, Martin (2019). Mechanistic Insights into the cis- and trans-Acting DNase Activities of Cas12a. Molecular Cell, 73(3):589-600.e4.

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) is an RNA-guided DNA-cutting nuclease that has been repurposed for genome editing. Upon target DNA binding, Cas12a cleaves both the target DNA in cis and non-target single-stranded DNAs (ssDNAs) in trans. To elucidate the molecular basis for both DNase cleavage modes, we performed structural and biochemical studies on Francisella novicida Cas12a. We show that guide RNA-target strand DNA hybridization conformationally activates Cas12a, triggering its trans-acting, non-specific, single-stranded DNase activity. In turn, cis cleavage of double-stranded DNA targets is a result of protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-dependent DNA duplex unwinding, electrostatic stabilization of the displaced non-target DNA strand, and ordered sequential cleavage of the non-target and target DNA strands. Cas12a releases the PAM-distal DNA cleavage product and remains bound to the PAM-proximal DNA cleavage product in a catalytically competent, trans-active state. Together, these results provide a revised model for the molecular mechanisms of both the cis- and the trans-acting DNase activities of Cas12a enzymes, enabling their further exploitation as genome editing tools.

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) is an RNA-guided DNA-cutting nuclease that has been repurposed for genome editing. Upon target DNA binding, Cas12a cleaves both the target DNA in cis and non-target single-stranded DNAs (ssDNAs) in trans. To elucidate the molecular basis for both DNase cleavage modes, we performed structural and biochemical studies on Francisella novicida Cas12a. We show that guide RNA-target strand DNA hybridization conformationally activates Cas12a, triggering its trans-acting, non-specific, single-stranded DNase activity. In turn, cis cleavage of double-stranded DNA targets is a result of protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-dependent DNA duplex unwinding, electrostatic stabilization of the displaced non-target DNA strand, and ordered sequential cleavage of the non-target and target DNA strands. Cas12a releases the PAM-distal DNA cleavage product and remains bound to the PAM-proximal DNA cleavage product in a catalytically competent, trans-active state. Together, these results provide a revised model for the molecular mechanisms of both the cis- and the trans-acting DNase activities of Cas12a enzymes, enabling their further exploitation as genome editing tools.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Biochemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Biochemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:7 February 2019
Deposited On:06 Sep 2019 08:06
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:44
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:1097-2765
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2018.11.021
PubMed ID:30639240

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