Genome-wide inactivation of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs)

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Science  11 Oct 2015:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad1191

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The shortage of organs for transplantation is a major barrier to the treatment of organ failure. While porcine organs are considered promising, their use has been checked by concerns about transmission of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) to humans. Here, we describe the eradication of all PERVs in a porcine kidney epithelial cell line (PK15). We first determined the PK15 PERV copy number to be 62. Using CRISPR-Cas9, we disrupted all 62 copies of the PERV pol gene and demonstrated a >1000-fold reduction in PERV transmission to human cells using our engineered cells. Our study shows that CRISPR-Cas9 multiplexability can be as high as 62 and demonstrates the possibility that PERVs can be inactivated for clinical application to porcine-to-human xenotransplantation.

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