Optimizing genome editing strategy by primer-extension-mediated sequencing
Efficient and precise genome editing is essential for clinical applications and generating animal models, which requires engineered nucleases with high editing ability while low off-target activity. Here we present a high-throughput sequencing method, primer-extension-mediated sequencing (PEM-seq), to comprehensively assess both editing ability and specificity of engineered nucleases. We showed CRISPR/Cas9-generated breaks could lead to chromosomal translocations and large deletions by PEM-seq. We also found that Cas9 nickase possessed lower off-target activity while with some loss of target cleavage ability. However, high-fidelity Cas9 variants, including both eCas9 and the new FeCas9, could significantly reduce the Cas9 off-target activity with no obvious editing retardation. Moreover, we found AcrIIA4 inhibitor could greatly reduce the activities of Cas9, but off-target loci were not so effectively suppressed as the on-target sites. Therefore, PEM-seq fully evaluating engineered nucleases could help choose better genome editing strategy at given loci than other methods detecting only off-target activity.