Synthetic CRISPR RNA-Cas9-guided genome editing in human cells.
Genome editing with the clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 nuclease system is a powerful technology for manipulating genomes, including introduction of gene disruptions or corrections. Here we develop a chemically modified, 29-nucleotide synthetic CRISPR RNA (scrRNA), which in combination with unmodified transactivating crRNA (tracrRNA) is shown to functionally replace the natural guide RNA in the CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease system and to mediate efficient genome editing in human cells. Incorporation of rational chemical modifications known to protect against nuclease digestion and stabilize RNA-RNA interactions in the tracrRNA hybridization region of CRISPR RNA (crRNA) yields a scrRNA with enhanced activity compared with the unmodified crRNA and comparable gene disruption activity to the previously published single guide RNA. Taken together, these findings provide a platform for therapeutic applications, especially for nervous system disease, using successive application of cell-permeable, synthetic CRISPR RNAs to activate and then silence Cas9 nuclease activity.