Gene editing may be used to excise the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) provirus from the host cell genome, possibly eradicating the infection. Here, using cells acutely or latently infected by HIV-1 and treated with long terminal repeat-targeting CRISPR/Cas9, we show that the excised HIV-1 provirus persists for a few weeks and may rearrange in circular molecules. Although circular proviral DNA is naturally formed during HIV-1 replication, we observed that gene-editing might increase proviral DNA circles with restored LTRs. These extrachromosomal elements were recovered and probed for residual activity through their re-transfection in uninfected cells. We discovered that they can be transcriptionally active in the presence of Tat and Rev. Although confirming that gene editing is a powerful tool to eradicate HIV-1 infection, this work highlights that, to achieve this goal, the LTRs must be cleaved in several pieces to avoid residual activity and minimize the risk of re-integration in a context of genomic instability, possibly caused by off-target activity of Cas9. IMPORTANCE Excision of HIV-1 provirus from host cell genome has proved feasible in vitro, and to some extent, in vivo. Among the different approaches, CRISPR/Cas9 is the most promising tool for gene editing. The present study underlines the remarkable effectiveness of CRISPR/Cas9 in removing the HIV-1 provirus from infected cells and investigates the fate of the excised HIV-1 genome. This study demonstrates that the free provirus may persist in the cell after editing and in appropriate circumstances may integrate back into the cell genome. As an episome, it might be transcriptionally active, especially in the presence of Tat and Rev. The persistence of HIV-1 episome was strongly decreased by gene editing with multiple targets. Although gene editing has the potential to eradicate HIV-1 infection, this work highlights a potential issue that warrants further investigation.

CRISPR/Cas9 ablation of integrated HIV-1 accumulates proviral DNA circles with reformed LTRs / Lai, Michele; Maori, Eyal; Quaranta, Paola; Matteoli, Giulia; Maggi, Fabrizio; Sgarbanti, Marco; Crucitta, Stefania; Pacini, Simone; Turriziani, Ombretta; Antonelli, Guido; L Heeney, Jonathan; Freer, Giulia; Pistello, Mauro. - In: JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY. - ISSN 1098-5514. - (2021). [10.1128/JVI.01358-21]

CRISPR/Cas9 ablation of integrated HIV-1 accumulates proviral DNA circles with reformed LTRs

Ombretta Turriziani;Guido Antonelli;
2021

Abstract

Gene editing may be used to excise the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) provirus from the host cell genome, possibly eradicating the infection. Here, using cells acutely or latently infected by HIV-1 and treated with long terminal repeat-targeting CRISPR/Cas9, we show that the excised HIV-1 provirus persists for a few weeks and may rearrange in circular molecules. Although circular proviral DNA is naturally formed during HIV-1 replication, we observed that gene-editing might increase proviral DNA circles with restored LTRs. These extrachromosomal elements were recovered and probed for residual activity through their re-transfection in uninfected cells. We discovered that they can be transcriptionally active in the presence of Tat and Rev. Although confirming that gene editing is a powerful tool to eradicate HIV-1 infection, this work highlights that, to achieve this goal, the LTRs must be cleaved in several pieces to avoid residual activity and minimize the risk of re-integration in a context of genomic instability, possibly caused by off-target activity of Cas9. IMPORTANCE Excision of HIV-1 provirus from host cell genome has proved feasible in vitro, and to some extent, in vivo. Among the different approaches, CRISPR/Cas9 is the most promising tool for gene editing. The present study underlines the remarkable effectiveness of CRISPR/Cas9 in removing the HIV-1 provirus from infected cells and investigates the fate of the excised HIV-1 genome. This study demonstrates that the free provirus may persist in the cell after editing and in appropriate circumstances may integrate back into the cell genome. As an episome, it might be transcriptionally active, especially in the presence of Tat and Rev. The persistence of HIV-1 episome was strongly decreased by gene editing with multiple targets. Although gene editing has the potential to eradicate HIV-1 infection, this work highlights a potential issue that warrants further investigation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1574167
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