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PhieABEs: a PAM-less/free high-efficiency adenine base editor toolbox with wide target scope in plants
Plant Biotechnology Journal  (IF9.803),  Pub Date : 2022-01-05, DOI: 10.1111/pbi.13774
Jiantao Tan, Dongchang Zeng, Yanchang Zhao, Yaxi Wang, Taoli Liu, Shuangchun Li, Yang Xue, Yuyu Luo, Xianrong Xie, Letian Chen, Yao-Guang Liu, Qinlong Zhu

Adenine base editors (ABEs), which are generally engineered adenosine deaminases and Cas variants, introduce site-specific A-to-G mutations for agronomic trait improvement. However, notably varying editing efficiencies, restrictive requirements for protospacer-adjacent motifs (PAMs) and a narrow editing window greatly limit their application. Here, we developed a robust high-efficiency ABE (PhieABE) toolbox for plants by fusing an evolved, highly active form of the adenosine deaminase TadA8e and a single-stranded DNA-binding domain (DBD), based on PAM-less/free Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) nickase variants that recognize the PAM NGN (for SpCas9n-NG and SpGn) or NNN (for SpRYn). By targeting 29 representative targets in rice and assessing the results, we demonstrate that PhieABEs have significantly improved base-editing activity, expanded target range and broader editing windows compared to the ABE7.10 and general ABE8e systems. Among these PhieABEs, hyper ABE8e-DBD-SpRYn (hyABE8e-SpRY) showed nearly 100% editing efficiency at some tested sites, with a high proportion of homozygous base substitutions in the editing windows and no single guide RNA (sgRNA)-dependent off-target changes. The original sgRNA was more compatible with PhieABEs than the evolved sgRNA. In conclusion, the DBD fusion effectively promotes base-editing efficiency, and this novel PhieABE toolbox should have wide applications in plant functional genomics and crop improvement.