Un1Cas12f1 and Cas9 gene drive in HSV1: viruses that ‘infect’ viruses

Qiaorui Yao, Zhuangjie Lin, Keyuan Lai, Xianying Zeng, Guanxiong Lei, Tongwen Zhang, Hongsheng Dai,  bioRxiv,  2024.

Synthetic CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive has been developed as a potential tool to control harmful species. However, Cas9 gene drive faces high resistance rate and mitigation strategies developed so far are difficult to implement. Furthermore, studying the resistance to gene drive is time consuming and challenging in higher organisms. We here tackled these two challenges simultaneously by generating Cas9 and Un1Cas12f1 gene drive in a fast-replicating DNA virus, HSV1.

We assessed the transmission dynamics and resistance formation through phenotypical staining and next-generation sequencing, and demonstrated that HSV1 supported fast and effective transmission of gene drives, and the Un1Cas12f1 gene drives yielded greater conversion and lower resistance than did the Cas9 gene drives. This positions the Un1Cas12f1 gene drive as a promising alternative, and HSV1 emerges as a dependable and swift platform for gene drive assessment. The gene drive viruses function like pathogens that specifically infect viruses, offering potential applications in attenuating viral infections.

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Viruses that ‘infect’ viruses: Cas12f1 and Cas9 gene drive in HSV1

Meiotic Cas9 expression mediates gene conversion in the male and female mouse germline