Stanley Qi, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Broad-spectrum CRISPR-mediated inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 variants and endemic coronaviruses in vitro.
2022; 13 (1): 2766
A major challenge in coronavirus vaccination and treatment is to counteract rapid viral evolution and mutations. Here we demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas13d offers a broad-spectrum antiviral (BSA) to inhibit many SARS-CoV-2 variants and diverse human coronavirus strains with >99% reduction of the viral titer. We show that Cas13d-mediated coronavirus inhibition is dependent on the crRNA cellular spatial colocalization with Cas13d and target viral RNA. Cas13d can significantly enhance the therapeutic effects of diverse small molecule drugs against coronaviruses for prophylaxis or treatment purposes, and the best combination reduced viral titer by over four orders of magnitude. Using lipid nanoparticle-mediated RNA delivery, we demonstrate that the Cas13d system can effectively treat infection from multiple variants of coronavirus, including Omicron SARS-CoV-2, in human primary airway epithelium air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures. Our study establishes CRISPR-Cas13 as a BSA which is highly complementary to existing vaccination and antiviral treatment strategies.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-30546-7
View details for PubMedID 35589813
Dual CRISPR interference and activation for targeted reactivation of X-linked endogenous FOXP3 in human breast cancer cells.
2022; 21 (1): 38
BACKGROUND: Unlike autosomal tumor suppressors, X-linked tumor suppressors can be inactivated by a single hit due to X-chromosome inactivation (XCI). Here, we argue that targeted reactivation of the non-mutated allele from XCI offers a potential therapy for female breast cancers.METHODS: Towards this goal, we developed a dual CRISPR interference and activation (CRISPRi/a) approach for simultaneously silencing and reactivating multiple X-linked genes using two orthogonal, nuclease-deficient CRISPR/Cas9 (dCas9) proteins.RESULTS: Using Streptococcus pyogenes dCas9-KRAB for silencing XIST and Staphylococcus aureus dCas9-VPR for activating FOXP3, we achieved CRISPR activation of FOXP3 in various cell lines of human female breast cancers. In human breast cancer HCC202 cells, which express a synonymous heterozygous mutation in the coding region of FOXP3, simultaneous silencing of XIST from XCI led to enhanced and prolonged FOXP3 activation. Also, reactivation of endogenous FOXP3 in breast cancer cells by CRISPRi/a inhibited tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. We further optimized CRISPRa by fusing dCas9 to the demethylase TET1 and observed enhanced FOXP3 activation. Analysis of the conserved CpG-rich region of FOXP3 intron 1 confirmed that CRISPRi/a-mediated simultaneous FOXP3 activation and XIST silencing were accompanied by elevated H4 acetylation, including H4K5ac, H4K8ac, and H4K16ac, and H3K4me3 and lower DNA methylation. This indicates that CRISPRi/a targeting to XIST and FOXP3 loci alters their transcription and their nearby epigenetic modifications.CONCLUSIONS: The simultaneous activation and repression of the X-linked, endogenous FOXP3 and XIST from XCI offers a useful research tool and a potential therapeutic for female breast cancers.
View details for DOI 10.1186/s12943-021-01472-x
View details for PubMedID 35130925
Multi-color super-resolution imaging to study human coronavirus RNA during cellular infection.
bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the third human coronavirus within 20 years that gave rise to a life-threatening disease and the first to reach pandemic spread. To make therapeutic headway against current and future coronaviruses, the biology of coronavirus RNA during infection must be precisely understood. Here, we present a robust and generalizable framework combining high-throughput confocal and super-resolution microscopy imaging to study coronavirus infection at the nanoscale. Employing the model human coronavirus HCoV-229E, we specifically labeled coronavirus genomic RNA (gRNA) and double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) via multicolor RNA-immunoFISH and visualized their localization patterns within the cell. The exquisite resolution of our approach uncovers a striking spatial organization of gRNA and dsRNA into three distinct structures and enables quantitative characterization of the status of the infection after antiviral drug treatment. Our approach provides a comprehensive framework that supports investigations of coronavirus fundamental biology and therapeutic effects.
View details for DOI 10.1101/2021.06.09.447760
View details for PubMedID 34127974
Multi-color super-resolution imaging to study human coronavirus RNA during cellular infection.
Cell reports methods
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the third human coronavirus within 20 years that gave rise to a life-threatening disease and the first to reach pandemic spread. To make therapeutic headway against current and future coronaviruses, the biology of coronavirus RNA during infection must be precisely understood. Here, we present a robust and generalizable framework combining high-throughput confocal and super-resolution microscopy imaging to study coronavirus infection at the nanoscale. Employing the model human coronavirus HCoV-229E, we specifically labeled coronavirus genomic RNA (gRNA) and double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) via multicolor RNA-immunoFISH and visualized their localization patterns within the cell. The 20nm resolution achieved by of our approach uncovers a striking spatial organization of gRNA and dsRNA into three distinct structures and enables quantitative characterization of the status of the infection after antiviral drug treatment. Our approach provides a comprehensive imaging framework that will enable future investigations of coronavirus fundamental biology and therapeutic effects.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.crmeth.2022.100170
View details for PubMedID 35128513
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8806145
Engineered miniature CRISPR-Cas system for mammalian genome regulation and editing.
Compact and versatile CRISPR-Cas systems will enable genome engineering applications through high-efficiency delivery in a wide variety of contexts. Here, we create an efficient miniature Cas system (CasMINI) engineered from the type V-F Cas12f (Cas14) system by guide RNA and protein engineering, which is less than half the size of currently used CRISPR systems (Cas9 or Cas12a). We demonstrate that CasMINI can drive high levels of gene activation (up to thousands-fold increases), while the natural Cas12f system fails to function in mammalian cells. We show that the CasMINI system has comparable activities to Cas12a for gene activation, is highly specific, and allows robust base editing and gene editing. We expect that CasMINI can be broadly useful for cell engineering and gene therapy applications ex vivo and in vivo.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.08.008
View details for PubMedID 34480847
Development of CRISPR as an Antiviral Strategy to Combat SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has highlighted the need for antiviral approaches that can target emerging viruses with no effective vaccines or pharmaceuticals. Here, we demonstrate a CRISPR-Cas13-based strategy, PAC-MAN (prophylactic antiviral CRISPR in human cells), for viral inhibition that can effectively degrade RNA from SARS-CoV-2 sequences and live influenza A virus (IAV) in human lung epithelial cells. We designed and screened CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) targeting conserved viral regions and identified functional crRNAs targeting SARS-CoV-2. This approach effectively reduced H1N1 IAV load in respiratory epithelial cells. Our bioinformatic analysis showed that a group of only six crRNAs can target more than 90% of all coronaviruses. With the development of a safe and effective system for respiratory tract delivery, PAC-MAN has the potential to become an important pan-coronavirus inhibition strategy.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.020
View details for PubMedID 32353252
- Cross-neutralization of SARS coronavirus-specific antibodies against bat SARS-like coronaviruses SCIENCE CHINA-LIFE SCIENCES 2017; 60 (12): 1399–1402
Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus
2017; 13 (11): e1006698
A large number of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoV) have been detected in horseshoe bats since 2005 in different areas of China. However, these bat SARSr-CoVs show sequence differences from SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in different genes (S, ORF8, ORF3, etc) and are considered unlikely to represent the direct progenitor of SARS-CoV. Herein, we report the findings of our 5-year surveillance of SARSr-CoVs in a cave inhabited by multiple species of horseshoe bats in Yunnan Province, China. The full-length genomes of 11 newly discovered SARSr-CoV strains, together with our previous findings, reveals that the SARSr-CoVs circulating in this single location are highly diverse in the S gene, ORF3 and ORF8. Importantly, strains with high genetic similarity to SARS-CoV in the hypervariable N-terminal domain (NTD) and receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the S1 gene, the ORF3 and ORF8 region, respectively, were all discovered in this cave. In addition, we report the first discovery of bat SARSr-CoVs highly similar to human SARS-CoV in ORF3b and in the split ORF8a and 8b. Moreover, SARSr-CoV strains from this cave were more closely related to SARS-CoV in the non-structural protein genes ORF1a and 1b compared with those detected elsewhere. Recombination analysis shows evidence of frequent recombination events within the S gene and around the ORF8 between these SARSr-CoVs. We hypothesize that the direct progenitor of SARS-CoV may have originated after sequential recombination events between the precursors of these SARSr-CoVs. Cell entry studies demonstrated that three newly identified SARSr-CoVs with different S protein sequences are all able to use human ACE2 as the receptor, further exhibiting the close relationship between strains in this cave and SARS-CoV. This work provides new insights into the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV and highlights the necessity of preparedness for future emergence of SARS-like diseases.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006698
View details for Web of Science ID 000416888500016
View details for PubMedID 29190287
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5708621
IFNAR2-dependent gene expression profile induced by IFN-alpha in Pteropus alecto bat cells and impact of IFNAR2 knockout on virus infection
2017; 12 (8): e0182866
Bats are important reservoirs of many viruses, which are capable of infecting the host without inducing obvious clinical diseases. Interferon and the downstream interferon regulated genes (IRGs) are known to act as the first line of defense against viral infections. Little is known about the transcriptional profile of genes being induced by interferon in bats and their role in controlling virus infection. In this study, we constructed IFNAR2 knockout bat cell lines using CRISPR technology and further characterized gene expression profiles induced by the most abundant IFN-α (IFN-α3). Firstly, we demonstrated that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is applicable for bat cells as this represents the first CRIPSR knockout cell line for bats. Our results showed the pleiotropic effect of IFN-α3 on the bat kidney cell line, PaKiT03. As expected, we confirmed that IFNAR2 is indispensable for IFN-a signaling pathway and plays an important role in antiviral immunity. Unexpectedly, we also identified novel IFNAR2-dependent IRGs which are enriched in pathways related to cancer. To our knowledge, this seems to be bat-specific as no such observation has been reported for other mammalian species. This study expands our knowledge about bat immunology and the cell line established can provide a powerful tool for future study into virus-bat interaction and cancer biology.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0182866
View details for Web of Science ID 000407196700075
View details for PubMedID 28793350
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5549907
Bat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Like Coronavirus WIV1 Encodes an Extra Accessory Protein, ORFX, Involved in Modulation of the Host Immune Response
JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY
2016; 90 (14): 6573–82
Bats harbor severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like coronaviruses (SL-CoVs) from which the causative agent of the 2002-2003 SARS pandemic is thought to have originated. However, despite the fact that a large number of genetically diverse SL-CoV sequences have been detected in bats, only two strains (named WIV1 and WIV16) have been successfully cultured in vitro These two strains differ from SARS-CoV only in containing an extra open reading frame (ORF) (named ORFX), between ORF6 and ORF7, which has no homology to any known protein sequences. In this study, we constructed a full-length cDNA clone of SL-CoV WIV1 (rWIV1), an ORFX deletion mutant (rWIV1-ΔX), and a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing mutant (rWIV1-GFP-ΔX). Northern blotting and fluorescence microscopy indicate that ORFX was expressed during WIV1 infection. A virus infection assay showed that rWIV1-ΔX replicated as efficiently as rWIV1 in Vero E6, Calu-3, and HeLa-hACE2 cells. Further study showed that ORFX could inhibit interferon production and activate NF-κB. Our results demonstrate for the first time that the unique ORFX in the WIV1 strain is a functional gene involving modulation of the host immune response but is not essential for in vitro viral replication.Bats harbor genetically diverse SARS-like coronaviruses (SL-CoVs), and some of them have the potential for interspecies transmission. A unique open reading frame (ORFX) was identified in the genomes of two recently isolated bat SL-CoV strains (WIV1 and -16). It will therefore be critical to clarify whether and how this protein contributes to virulence during viral infection. Here we revealed that the unique ORFX is a functional gene that is involved in the modulation of the host immune response but is not essential for in vitro viral replication. Our results provide important information for further exploration of the ORFX function in the future. Moreover, the reverse genetics system we constructed will be helpful for study of the pathogenesis of this group of viruses and to develop therapeutics for future control of emerging SARS-like infections.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.03079-15
View details for Web of Science ID 000378658800033
View details for PubMedID 27170748
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4936131