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Gene Activation By A CRISPR-assistant Trans Enhancer

Xin Hui Xu, Wei Dai, Dan Yang Wang, Jian Wu, Jin Ke Wang

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AbstractGene activation is essential to the basic biological research and biomedicine. Therefore, various gene activators such as activation domain-ZNF, TALE and CRISPR proteins have been developed for this end, in which the CRISPR protein dead Cas9 (dCas9) is now most widely used. However, the current gene activators are still limited by their inefficient gene activation activity. In this study, we developed a new strategy, CRISPR-assistant trans enhancer, for activating gene expression in high efficiency by combining dCas9-VP64/sgRNA with a widely used strong enhancer, the CMV enhancer. In this strategy, a trans CMV enhancer DNA was recruited to target gene by dCas9-VP64/sgRNA via annealing between 3’ end of sgRNA and CMV enhancer. The trans enhancer activates gene transcription as the natural looped cis enhancer. The trans enhancer could activate both exogenous reporter gene and variant endogenous genes in various cells, with much higher activation efficiency than the current dCas9 activators.