| van Diemen FR, Kruse EM, Hooykaas MJG, Bruggeling CE, Schürch AC, van Ham PM, et al. (2016) CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Genome Editing of Herpesviruses Limits Productive and Latent Infections. PLoS Pathog 12(6): e1005701. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005701|
Herpesviruses are large DNA viruses that are carried by almost 100% of the adult human population. Employing the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach, virologists from the University Medical Center Utrecht have targeted sites in three different herpesviruses Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 to inhibit their viral replication.
Viral targeting using multiple gRNAs
Researchers set out to combat both productive and latent herpesvirus infections by exploiting the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target viral genetic elements important for virus fitness. Published in PLOS Pathogens, they showed effective abrogation of HCMV and HSV-1 replication by targeting gRNAs to essential viral genes.
Simultaneous targeting of HSV-1 with multiple gRNAs completely abolished the production of infectious particles from human cells. Using the same approach, EBV was almost completely cleared from latently infected EBV-transformed human tumor cells. This demonstrates the possibility of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in the future targeting herpesvirus genomes as part of a potent prophylactic and therapeutic anti-viral strategy that may be used to impair viral replication and clear latent virus infection.
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