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Rationally-designed meganucleases with altered sequence specificity and dna-binding affinity

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Rationally-designed meganucleases with altered sequence specificity and dna-binding affinity


Rationally-designed LAGLIDADG meganucleases and methods of making such meganucleases are provided. In addition, methods are provided for using the meganucleases to generate recombinant cells and organisms having a desired DNA sequence inserted into a limited number of loci within the genome, as well as methods of gene therapy, for treatment of pathogenic infections, and for in vitro applications in diagnostics and research.
Related Terms: Dna Sequence

Inventors: James J. Smith, Derek Jantz, Homme W. Hellinga
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120264189 - Class: 435196 (USPTO) - 10/18/12 - Class 435 
Chemistry: Molecular Biology And Microbiology > Enzyme (e.g., Ligases (6. ), Etc.), Proenzyme; Compositions Thereof; Process For Preparing, Activating, Inhibiting, Separating, Or Purifying Enzymes >Hydrolase (3. ) >Acting On Ester Bond (3.1)

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120264189, Rationally-designed meganucleases with altered sequence specificity and dna-binding affinity.

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RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/223,852 filed Sep. 1, 2011, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/583,368 filed Oct. 18, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,021,867, which claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/727,512, filed Oct. 18, 2005, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated by reference herein.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

The invention was supported in part by grants 2R01-GM-0498712, 5F32-GM072322 and 5 DP1 OD000122 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of National Institutes of Health of the United States of America. Therefore, the U.S. government may have certain rights in the invention.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of molecular biology and recombinant nucleic acid technology. In particular, the invention relates to rationally-designed, non-naturally-occurring meganucleases with altered DNA recognition sequence specificity and/or altered affinity. The invention also relates to methods of producing such meganucleases, and methods of producing recombinant nucleic acids and organisms using such meganucleases.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Genome engineering requires the ability to insert, delete, substitute and otherwise manipulate specific genetic sequences within a genome, and has numerous therapeutic and biotechnological applications. The development of effective means for genome modification remains a major goal in gene therapy, agrotechnology, and synthetic biology (Porteus et al. (2005), Nat. Biotechnol. 23: 967-73; Tzfira et al. (2005), Trends Biotechnol. 23: 567-9; McDaniel et al. (2005), Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 16: 476-83). A common method for inserting or modifying a DNA sequence involves introducing a transgenic DNA sequence flanked by sequences homologous to the genomic target and selecting or screening for a successful homologous recombination event. Recombination with the transgenic DNA occurs rarely but can be stimulated by a double-stranded break in the genomic DNA at the target site. Numerous methods have been employed to create DNA double-stranded breaks, including irradiation and chemical treatments. Although these methods efficiently stimulate recombination, the double-stranded breaks are randomly dispersed in the genome, which can be highly mutagenic and toxic. At present, the inability to target gene modifications to unique sites within a chromosomal background is a major impediment to successful genome engineering.

One approach to achieving this goal is stimulating homologous recombination at a double-stranded break in a target locus using a nuclease with specificity for a sequence that is sufficiently large to be present at only a single site within the genome (see, e.g., Porteus et al. (2005), Nat. Biotechnol. 23: 967-73). The effectiveness of this strategy has been demonstrated in a variety of organisms using chimeric fusions between an engineered zinc finger DNA-binding domain and the non-specific nuclease domain of the FokI restriction enzyme (Porteus (2006), Mol Ther 13: 438-46; Wright et al. (2005), Plant J. 44: 693-705; Urnov et al. (2005), Nature 435: 646-51). Although these artificial zinc finger nucleases stimulate site-specific recombination, they retain residual non-specific cleavage activity resulting from under-regulation of the nuclease domain and frequently cleave at unintended sites (Smith et al. (2000), Nucleic Acids Res. 28: 3361-9). Such unintended cleavage can cause mutations and toxicity in the treated organism (Porteus et al. (2005), Nat. Biotechnol. 23: 967-73).

A group of naturally-occurring nucleases which recognize 15-40 base-pair cleavage sites commonly found in the genomes of plants and fungi may provide a less toxic genome engineering alternative. Such “meganucleases” or “homing endonucleases” are frequently associated with parasitic DNA elements, such as group 1 self-splicing introns and inteins. They naturally promote homologous recombination or gene insertion at specific locations in the host genome by producing a double-stranded break in the chromosome, which recruits the cellular DNA-repair machinery (Stoddard (2006), Q. Rev. Biophys. 38: 49-95). Meganucleases are commonly grouped into four families: the LAGLIDADG family, the GIY-YIG family, the His-Cys box family and the HNH family. These families are characterized by structural motifs, which affect catalytic activity and recognition sequence. For instance, members of the LAGLIDADG family are characterized by having either one or two copies of the conserved LAGLIDADG motif (see Chevalier et al. (2001), Nucleic Acids Res. 29(18): 3757-3774). The LAGLIDADG meganucleases with a single copy of the LAGLIDADG motif form homodimers, whereas members with two copies of the LAGLIDADG motif are found as monomers. Similarly, the GIY-YIG family members have a GIY-YIG module, which is 70-100 residues long and includes four or five conserved sequence motifs with four invariant residues, two of which are required for activity (see Van Roey et al. (2002), Nature Struct. Biol. 9: 806-811). The His-Cys box meganucleases are characterized by a highly conserved series of histidines and cysteines over a region encompassing several hundred amino acid residues (see Chevalier et al. (2001), Nucleic Acids Res. 29(18): 3757-3774). In the case of the NHN family, the members are defined by motifs containing two pairs of conserved histidines surrounded by asparagine residues (see Chevalier et al. (2001), Nucleic Acids Res. 29(18): 3757-3774). The four families of meganucleases are widely separated from one another with respect to conserved structural elements and, consequently, DNA recognition sequence specificity and catalytic activity.

Natural meganucleases, primarily from the LAGLIDADG family, have been used to effectively promote site-specific genome modification in plants, yeast, Drosophila, mammalian cells and mice, but this approach has been limited to the modification of either homologous genes that conserve the meganuclease recognition sequence (Monnat et al. (1999), Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 255: 88-93) or to pre-engineered genomes into which a recognition sequence has been introduced (Rouet et al. (1994), Mol. Cell. Biol. 14: 8096-106; Chilton et al. (2003), Plant Physiol. 133: 956-65; Puchta et al. (1996), Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93: 5055-60; Rong et al. (2002), Genes Dev. 16: 1568-81; Gouble et al. (2006), J. Gene Med. 8(5):616-622).

Systematic implementation of nuclease-stimulated gene modification requires the use of engineered enzymes with customized specificities to target DNA breaks to existing sites in a genome and, therefore, there has been great interest in adapting meganucleases to promote gene modifications at medically or biotechnologically relevant sites (Porteus et al. (2005), Nat. Biotechnol. 23: 967-73; Sussman et al. (2004), J. Mol. Biol. 342: 31-41; Epinat et al. (2003), Nucleic Acids Res. 31: 2952-62).

The meganuclease I-CreI from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a member of the LAGLIDADG family which recognizes and cuts a 22 base-pair recognition sequence in the chloroplast chromosome, and which presents an attractive target for meganuclease redesign. The wild-type enzyme is a homodimer in which each monomer makes direct contacts with 9 base pairs in the full-length recognition sequence. Genetic selection techniques have been used to identify mutations in I-CreI that alter base preference at a single position in this recognition sequence (Sussman et al. (2004), J. Mol. Biol. 342: 31-41; Chames et al. (2005), Nucleic Acids Res. 33: e178; Seligman et al. (2002), Nucleic Acids Res. 30: 3870-9) or, more recently, at three positions in the recognition sequence (Arnould et al. (2006), J. Mol. Biol. 355: 443-58). The I-CreI protein-DNA interface contains nine amino acids that contact the DNA bases directly and at least an additional five positions that can form potential contacts in modified interfaces. The size of this interface imposes a combinatorial complexity that is unlikely to be sampled adequately in sequence libraries constructed to select for enzymes with drastically altered cleavage sites.

There remains a need for nucleases that will facilitate precise modification of a genome. In addition, there remains a need for techniques for generating nucleases with pre-determined, rationally-designed recognition sequences that will allow manipulation of genetic sequences at specific genetic loci and for techniques utilizing such nucleases to genetically engineer organisms with precise sequence modifications.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is based, in part, upon the identification and characterization of specific amino acid residues in the LAGLIDADG family of meganucleases that make contacts with DNA bases and the DNA backbone when the meganucleases associate with a double-stranded DNA recognition sequence, and thereby affect the specificity and activity of the enzymes. This discovery has been used, as described in detail below, to identify amino acid substitutions which can alter the recognition sequence specificity and/or DNA-binding affinity of the meganucleases, and to rationally design and develop meganucleases that can recognize a desired DNA sequence that naturally-occurring meganucleases do not recognize. The invention also provides methods that use such meganucleases to produce recombinant nucleic acids and organisms by utilizing the meganucleases to cause recombination of a desired genetic sequence at a limited number of loci within the genome of the organism, for gene therapy, for treatment of pathogenic infections, and for in vitro applications in diagnostics and research.

Thus, in some embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganucleases having altered specificity for at least one recognition sequence half-site relative to a wild-type I-CreI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 2-153 of the wild-type I-CreI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 1, but in which the recombinant meganuclease has specificity for a recognition sequence half-site which differs by at least one base pair from a half-site within an I-CreI meganuclease recognition sequence selected from SEQ ID NO: 2, SEQ ID NO: 3, SEQ ID NO: 4 and SEQ ID NO: 5, and in which the recombinant meganuclease includes at least one modification listed in Table 1 which is not an excluded modification found in the prior art.

In other embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganucleases having altered specificity for at least one recognition sequence half-site relative to a wild-type I-MsoI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 6-160 of the I-MsoI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 6, but in which the recombinant meganuclease has specificity for a recognition sequence half-site which differs by at least one base pair from a half-site within an I-MsoI meganuclease recognition sequence selected from SEQ ID NO: 7 and SEQ ID NO: 8, and in which the recombinant meganuclease includes at least one modification listed in Table 2 which is not an excluded modification found in the prior art.

In other embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganucleases having altered specificity for a recognition sequence relative to a wild-type I-SceI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 3-186 of the I-SceI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 9, but in which the recombinant meganuclease has specificity for a recognition sequence which differs by at least one base pair from an I-SceI meganuclease recognition sequence of SEQ ID NO: 10 and SEQ ID NO: 11, and in which the recombinant meganuclease includes at least one modification listed in Table 3 which is not an excluded modification found in the prior art.

In other embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganucleases having altered specificity for at least one recognition sequence half-site relative to a wild-type I-CeuI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 5-211 of the I-CeuI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 12, but in which the recombinant meganuclease has specificity for a recognition sequence half-site which differs by at least one base pair from a half-site within an I-CeuI meganuclease recognition sequence selected from SEQ ID NO: 13 and SEQ ID NO: 14, and in which the recombinant meganuclease includes at least one modification listed in Table 4 which is not an excluded modification found in the prior art.

The meganucleases of the invention can include one, two, three or more of the modifications which have been disclosed herein in order to affect the sequence specificity of the recombinant meganucleases at one, two, three or more positions within the recognition sequence. The meganucleases can include only the novel modifications disclosed herein, or can include the novel modifications disclosed herein in combination with modifications found in the prior art. Specifically excluded, however, are recombinant meganucleases comprising only the modifications of the prior art.

In another aspect, the invention provides for recombinant meganucleases with altered binding affinity for double-stranded DNA which is not sequence-specific. This is accomplished by modifications of the meganuclease residues which make contacts with the backbone of the double-stranded DNA recognition sequence. The modifications can increase or decrease the binding affinity and, consequently, can increase or decrease the overall activity of the enzyme. Moreover, increases/decreases in binding and activity have been found to causes decreases/increases in sequence specificity. Thus, the invention provides a means for altering sequence specificity generally by altering DNA-binding affinity.

Thus, in some embodiments, the invention provides for recombinant meganucleases having altered binding affinity for double-stranded DNA relative to a wild-type I-CreI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 2-153 of the I-CreI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 1, and in which the DNA-binding affinity has been either (1) increased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of E80, D137, 181, L112, P29, V64 or Y66 with H, N, Q, S, T, K or R, or (b) substitution of T46, T140 or T143 with K or R; or, conversely, (2) decreased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K34, K48, R51, K82, K116 or K139 with H, N, Q, S, T, D or E, or (b) substitution of 181, L112, P29, V64, Y66, T46, T140 or T143 with D or E.

In other embodiments, the invention provides for recombinant meganucleases having altered binding affinity for double-stranded DNA relative to a wild-type I-MsoI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 6-160 of the I-MsoI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 6, and in which the DNA-binding affinity has been either (1) increased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of E147, 185, G86 or Y118 with H, N, Q, S, T, K or R, or (b) substitution of Q41, N70, S87, T88, H89, Q122, Q139, 5150 or N152 with K or R; or, conversely, (2) decreased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K36, R51, K123, K143 or R144 with H, N, Q, S, T, D or E, or (b) substitution of 185, G86, Y118, Q41, N70, S87, T88, H89, Q122, Q139, 5150 or N152 with D or E.

In other embodiments, the invention provides for recombinant meganucleases having altered binding affinity for double-stranded DNA relative to a wild-type I-SceI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 3-186 of the I-SceI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 9, and in which the DNA-binding affinity has been either (1) increased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of D201, L19, L80, L92, Y151, Y188, I191, Y199 or Y222 with H, N, Q, S, T, K or R, or (b) substitution of N15, N17, S81, H84, N94, N120, T156, N157, 5159, N163, Q165, 5166, N194 or 5202 with K or R; or, conversely, (2) decreased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K20, K23, K63, K122, K148, K153, K190, K193, K195 or K223 with H, N, Q, S, T, D or E, or (b) substitution of L19, L80, L92, Y151, Y188, I191, Y199, Y222, N15, N17, S81, H84, N94, N120, T156, N157, 5159, N163, Q165, 5166, N194 or 5202 with D or E.

In other embodiments, the invention provides for recombinant meganucleases having altered binding affinity for double-stranded DNA relative to a wild-type I-CeuI meganuclease, in which the meganuclease includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 5-211 of the I-CeuI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 12, and in which the DNA-binding affinity has been either (1) increased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of D25 or D128 with H, N, Q, S, T, K or R, or (b) substitution of S68, N70, H94, S117, N120, N129 or H172 with K or R; or, conversely, (2) decreased by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K21, K28, K31, R112, R114 or R130 with H, N, Q, S, T, D or E, or (b) substitution of S68, N70, H94, 5117, N120, N129 or H172 with D or E.

The meganucleases of the invention can include one, two, three or more of the modifications of backbone contact residues which have been disclosed herein in order to affect DNA-binding affinity. In addition, these modifications affecting DNA-binding affinity can be combined with one or more of the novel modifications of the base contact residues described above which alter the sequence specificity of the recombinant meganucleases at specific positions within the recognition sequence, or with the prior art modifications described above, or with a combination of the novel modifications and prior art modifications. In particular, by combining backbone contact modifications and base contact modifications, recombinant meganucleases can be rationally-designed with desired specificity and activity. For example, increases in DNA-binding affinity can be designed which may offset losses in affinity resulting from designed changes to base contact residues, or decreases in affinity can be designed which may also decrease sequence specificity and broaden the set of recognition sequences for an enzyme.

In another aspect, the invention provides for rationally-designed meganuclease monomers with altered affinity for homo- or heterodimer formation. The affinity for dimer formation can be measured with the same monomer (i.e., homodimer formation) or with a different monomer (i.e., heterodimer formation) such as a reference wild-type meganuclease. These recombinant meganucleases have modifications to the amino acid residues which are present at the protein-protein interface between monomers in a meganuclease dimer. The modifications can be used to promote heterodimer formation and create meganucleases with non-palindromic recognition sequences.

Thus, in some embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganuclease monomers having altered affinity for dimer formation with a reference meganuclease monomer, in which the recombinant monomer includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 2-153 of the I-CreI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 1, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K7, K57 or K96 with D or E, or (b) substitution of E8 or E61 with K or R. Based upon such recombinant monomers, the invention also provides recombinant meganuclease heterodimers including (1) a first polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 2-153 of the I-CreI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 1, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of K7, K57 or K96 with D or E, and (2) a second polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 2-153 of the I-CreI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 1, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (b) substitution of E8 or E61 with K or R.

In other embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganuclease monomers having altered affinity for dimer formation with a reference meganuclease monomer, in which the recombinant monomer includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 6-160 of the I-MsoI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 6, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of R302 with D or E, or (b) substitution of D20, E11 or Q64 with K or R. Based upon such recombinant monomers, the invention also provides recombinant meganuclease heterodimers including (1) a first polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 6-160 of the I-MsoI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 6, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of R302 with D or E, and (2) a second polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 6-160 of the I-MsoI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 6, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (b) substitution of D20, E11 or Q64 with K or R.

In other embodiments, the invention provides recombinant meganuclease monomers having altered affinity for dimer formation with a reference meganuclease monomer, in which the recombinant monomer includes a polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 5-211 of the I-CeuI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 12, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of R93 with D or E, or (b) substitution of E152 with K or R. Based upon such recombinant monomers, the invention also provides recombinant meganuclease heterodimers including (1) a first polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 5-211 of the I-CeuI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 12, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (a) substitution of R93 with D or E, and (2) a second polypeptide having at least 85% sequence similarity to residues 5-211 of the I-CeuI meganuclease of SEQ ID NO: 12, but in which affinity for dimer formation has been altered by at least one modification corresponding to a substitution selected from (b) substitution of E152 with K or R.

The recombinant meganuclease monomers or heterodimers with altered affinity for dimer formation can also include one, two, three or more of the modifications of base contact residues described above; one, two, three or more of the modifications of backbone contact residues described above; or combinations of both. Thus, for example, the base contacts of a monomer can be modified to alter sequence specificity, the backbone contacts of a monomer can be modified to alter DNA-binding affinity, and the protein-protein interface can be modified to affect dimer formation. Such a recombinant monomer can be combined with a similarly modified monomer to produce a rationally-designed meganuclease heterodimer with desired sequence specificity and activity.

In another aspect, the invention provides for various methods of use for the rationally-designed meganucleases described and enabled herein. These methods include producing genetically-modified cells and organisms, treating diseases by gene therapy, treating pathogen infections, and using the recombinant meganucleases for in vitro applications for diagnostics and research.

Thus, in one aspect, the invention provides methods for producing a genetically-modified eukaryotic cell including an exogenous sequence of interest inserted in a chromosome, by transfecting the cell with (i) a first nucleic acid sequence encoding a meganuclease of the invention, and (ii) a second nucleic acid sequence including said sequence of interest, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the sequence of interest is inserted into the chromosome at the cleavage site either by homologous recombination or non-homologous end joining.

Alternatively, in another aspect, the invention provides methods for producing a genetically-modified eukaryotic cell including an exogenous sequence of interest inserted in a chromosome, by introducing a meganuclease protein of the invention into the cell, and transfecting the cell with a nucleic acid including the sequence of interest, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the sequence of interest is inserted into the chromosome at the cleavage site either by homologous recombination or non-homologous end joining.

In another aspect, the invention provides methods for producing a genetically-modified eukaryotic cell by disrupting a target sequence in a chromosome, by transfecting the cell with a nucleic acid encoding a meganuclease of the invention, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the target sequence is disrupted by non-homologous end joining at the cleavage site.

In another aspect, the invention provides methods of producing a genetically-modified organism by producing a genetically-modified eukaryotic cell according to the methods described above, and growing the genetically-modified eukaryotic cell to produce the genetically-modified organism. In these embodiments, the eukaryotic cell can be selected from a gamete, a zygote, a blastocyst cell, an embryonic stem cell, and a protoplast cell.

In another aspect, the invention provides methods for treating a disease by gene therapy in a eukaryote, by transfecting at least one cell of the eukaryote with one or more nucleic acids including (i) a first nucleic acid sequence encoding a meganuclease of the invention, and (ii) a second nucleic acid sequence including a sequence of interest, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the sequence of interest is inserted into the chromosome by homologous recombination or non-homologous end-joining, and insertion of the sequence of interest provides gene therapy for the disease.

Alternatively, in another aspect, the invention provides methods for treating a disease by gene therapy in a eukaryote, by introducing a meganuclease protein of the invention into at least one cell of the eukaryote, and transfecting the cell with a nucleic acid including a sequence of interest, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the sequence of interest is inserted into the chromosome at the cleavage site by homologous recombination or non-homologous end-joining, and insertion of the sequence of interest provides gene therapy for the disease.

In another aspect, the invention provides methods for treating a disease by gene therapy in a eukaryote by disrupting a target sequence in a chromosome of the eukaryotic, by transfecting at least one cell of the eukaryote with a nucleic acid encoding a meganuclease of the invention, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the chromosome and the target sequence is disrupted by non-homologous end joining at the cleavage site, wherein disruption of the target sequence provides the gene therapy for the disease.

In another aspect, the invention provides methods for treating a viral or prokaryotic pathogen infection in a eukaryotic host by disrupting a target sequence in a genome of the pathogen, by transfecting at least one infected cell of the host with a nucleic acid encoding a meganuclease of the invention, wherein the meganuclease produces a cleavage site in the genome and the target sequence is disrupted by either (1) non-homologous end joining at the cleavage site or (2) by homologous recombination with a second nucleic acid, and wherein disruption of the target sequence provides treatment for the infection.

More generally, in another aspect, the invention provides methods for rationally-designing recombinant meganucleases having altered specificity for at least one base position of a recognition sequence, by (1) determining at least a portion of a three-dimensional structure of a reference meganuclease-DNA complex; (2) identifying amino acid residues forming a base contact surface at the base position; (3) determining a distance between a β-carbon of at least a first residue of the contact surface and at least a first base at the base position; and (4) identifying an amino acid substitution to promote the desired change by either (a) for a first residue which is <6 Å from the first base, selecting a substitution from Group 1 and/or Group 2 which is a member of an appropriate one of Group G, Group C, Group T or Group A; or (b) for a first residue which is >6 Å from said first base, selecting a substitution from Group 2 and/or Group 3 which is a member of an appropriate one of Group G, Group C, Group T or Group A, where each of the Groups is defined herein. This method may be repeated for additional contact residues for the same base, and for contact residues for the other base at the same position, as well as for additional positions.

In addition, in another general aspect, the invention provides methods for rationally-designing a recombinant meganuclease having increased DNA-binding affinity, by (1) determining at least a portion of a three-dimensional structure of a reference meganuclease-DNA complex; (2) identifying amino acid contact residues forming a backbone contact surface; and (3) identifying an amino acid substitution to increase the DNA-binding affinity by (a) for a contact residue having a negatively-charged or hydrophobic side chain, selecting a substitution having an uncharged/polar or positively-charged side chain; or (b) for a contact residue having an uncharged/polar side chain, selecting a substitution having a positively-charged side chain. Conversely, the invention also provides methods for rationally-designing a recombinant meganuclease having decreased DNA-binding affinity, by (1) determining at least a portion of a three-dimensional structure of a reference meganuclease-DNA complex; (2) identifying amino acid contact residues forming a backbone contact surface; (3) identifying an amino acid substitution to decrease the DNA-binding affinity by (a) for a contact residue having a positively-charged side chain, selecting a substitution having an uncharged/polar or negatively-charged side chain; or (b) for a contact residue having an hydrophobic or uncharged/polar side chain, selecting a substitution having a negatively-charged side chain.

These and other aspects and embodiments of the invention will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art based upon the following detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1(A) illustrates the interactions between the I-CreI homodimer and its naturally-occurring double-stranded recognition sequence, based upon crystallographic data. This schematic representation depicts the recognition sequence (SEQ ID NO: 2 and SEQ ID NO: 3), shown as unwound for illustration purposes only, bound by the homodimer, shown as two ovals. The bases of each DNA half-site are numbered −1 through −9, and the amino acid residues of I-CreI which form the recognition surface are indicated by one-letter amino acid designations and numbers indicating residue position. Solid black lines: hydrogen bonds to DNA bases. Dashed lines: amino acid positions that form additional contacts in enzyme designs but do not contact the DNA in the wild-type complex. Arrows: residues that interact with the DNA backbone and influence cleavage activity.

FIG. 1(B) illustrates the wild-type contacts between the A-T base pair at position −4 of the cleavage half-site on the right side of FIG. 1(A). Specifically, the residue Q26 is shown to interact with the A base. Residue 177 is in proximity to the base pair but not specifically interacting.

FIG. 1(C) illustrates the interactions between a rationally-designed variant of the I-CreI meganuclease in which residue 177 has been modified to E77. As a result of this change, a G-C base pair is preferred at position −4. The interaction between Q26 and the G base is mediated by a water molecule, as has been observed crystallographically for the cleavage half-site on the left side of FIG. 1(A).

FIG. 1(D) illustrates the interactions between a rationally-designed variant of the I-CreI meganuclease in which residue Q26 has been modified to E26 and residue 177 has been modified to R77. As a result of this change, a C-G base pair is preferred at position −4.

FIG. 1(E) illustrates the interactions between a rationally-designed variant of the I-CreI meganuclease in which residue Q26 has been modified to A26 and residue 177 has been modified to Q77. As a result of this change, a T-A base pair is preferred at position −4.

FIG. 2(A) shows a comparison of one recognition sequence for each of the wild type I-CreI meganuclease (WT) and 11 rationally-designed meganuclease heterodimers of the invention. Bases that are conserved relative to the WT recognition sequence are shaded. The 9 bp half-sites are bolded. WT: wild-type (SEQ ID NO: 4); CF: ΔF508 allele of the human CFTR gene responsible for most cases of cystic fibrosis (SEQ ID NO: 25); MYD: the human DM kinase gene associated with myotonic dystrophy (SEQ ID NO: 27); CCR: the human CCR5 gene (a major HIV co-receptor) (SEQ ID NO: 26); ACH: the human FGFR3 gene correlated with achondroplasia (SEQ ID NO: 23); TAT: the HIV-1 TAT/REV gene (SEQ ID NO: 15); HSV: the HSV-1 UL36 gene (SEQ ID NO: 28); LAM: the bacteriophage λ p05 gene (SEQ ID NO: 22); POX: the Variola (smallpox) virus gp009 gene (SEQ ID NO: 30); URA: the Saccharomyces cerevisiae URA3 gene (SEQ ID NO: 36); GLA: the Arabidopsis thaliana GL2 gene (SEQ ID NO: 32); BRP: the Arabidopsis thaliana BP-1 gene (SEQ ID NO: 33).



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120264189 A1
Publish Date
10/18/2012
Document #
13457041
File Date
04/26/2012
USPTO Class
435196
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
12N9/16
Drawings
4


Dna Sequence


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