Large-scale discovery of recombinases for integrating DNA into the human genome
Matthew G. Durrant, Alison Fanton, Josh Tycko, Michaela Hinks, Sita S. Chandrasekaran, Nicholas T. Perry, Julia Schaepe, Peter P. Du, Peter Lotfy, Michael C. Bassik, Lacramioara Bintu, Ami S. Bhatt, Patrick D. HsuDownload PDF
Recent microbial genome sequencing efforts have revealed a vast reservoir of mobile genetic elements containing integrases that could be useful genome engineering tools. Large serine recombinases (LSRs), such as Bxb1 and PhiC31, are bacteriophage-encoded integrases that can facilitate the insertion of phage DNA into bacterial genomes. However, only a few LSRs have been previously characterized and they have limited efficiency in human cells. Here, we developed a systematic computational discovery workflow that identifies thousands of new LSRs and their cognate DNA attachment sites by. We validate this approach via experimental characterization of LSRs in human cells, leading to three classes of LSRs distinguished from one another by their efficiency and specificity. We identify landing pad LSRs that efficiently integrate into synthetically installed attachment sites orthogonal to the human genome, human genome-targeting LSRs with computationally predictable pseudosites, and multi-targeting LSRs that can unidirectionally integrate cargos at with similar efficiency and superior specificity to commonly used transposases. LSRs from each category were functionally characterized in human cells, overall achieving up to 7-fold higher plasmid recombination than Bxb1 and genome insertion efficiencies of 40-70% with cargo sizes over 7 kb. Overall, we establish a paradigm for large-scale discovery of microbial recombinases and reconstruction of their target sites directly from microbial sequencing data. This strategy provides a rich resource of over 60 experimentally characterized LSRs that can function in human cells and thousands of additional candidates for large-payload genome editing without exposed DNA double-stranded breaks.