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Cytosine, but not adenine, base editors induce genome-wide off-target mutations in rice

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Science  28 Feb 2019:
eaaw7166
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7166

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Abstract

Cytosine and adenine base editors (CBEs and ABEs) are promising new tools for achieving the precise genetic changes required for disease treatment and trait improvement. However, genome-wide and unbiased analyses of their off-target effects in vivo are still lacking. Our whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis of rice plants treated with BE3, high-fidelity BE3 (HF1-BE3), or ABE revealed that BE3 and HF1-BE3, but not ABE, induce substantial genome-wide off-target mutations, which are mostly the C→T type of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and appear to be enriched in genic regions. Notably, treatment of rice with BE3 or HF1-BE3 in the absence of single-guide RNA also results in the rise of genome-wide SNVs. Thus, the base editing unit of BE3 or HF1-BE3 needs to be optimized in order to attain high fidelity.

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