Oligonucleotide-mediated gene editing is underestimated in cells expressing mutated green fluorescent protein and is positively associated with target protein expression

Petra Disterer, Vanessa C Evans, Paul Simons, Jim Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides (ssODNs) can introduce small, specific sequence alterations into genomes. Potential applications include creating disease-associated mutations in cell lines or animals, functional studies of single nucleotide polymorphisms and, ultimately, clinical therapy by correcting genetic point mutations. Here, we report feasibility studies into realizing this potential by targeting a reporter gene, mutated enhanced green fluorescent protein (mEGFP).

METHODS:

Three mammalian cell lines, CHO, HEK293T and HepG2, expressing multiple copies of mEGFP were transfected with a 27-mer ssODN capable of restoring fluorescence. Successful cell correction was quantified by flow cytometry.

RESULTS:

Gene editing in each isogenic cell line, as measured by percentage of green cells, correlated tightly with target protein levels, and thus gene expression. In the total population, 2.5% of CHO-mEGFP cells were successfully edited, although, remarkably, in the highest decile producing mEGFP protein, over 20% of the cells had restored green fluorescence. Gene-edited clones initially selected for green fluorescence lost EGFP expression during cell passaging, which partly reflected G2-phase cycle arrest and perhaps eventual cell death. The major cause, however, was epigenetic down-regulation; incubation with sodium butyrate or 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine reactivated fluorescent EGFP expression and hence established that the repaired genotype was stable.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data establish that ssODN-mediated gene editing is underestimated in cultured mammalian cells expressing nonfluorescent mutated EGFP, because of variable expression of this mEGFP target gene in the cell population. This conclusion was endorsed by studies in HEK293T-mEGFP and HepG2-mEGFP cells. We infer that oligonucleotide-directed editing of endogenous genes is feasible, particularly for those that are transcriptionally active.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
JournalJournal of Gene Medicine
Volume14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

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