Rapidly inducible Cas9 and DSB-ddPCR to probe editing kinetics.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature methods (2017)


We developed a chemically inducible Cas9 (ciCas9) and a droplet digital PCR assay for double-strand breaks (DSB-ddPCR) to investigate the kinetics of Cas9-mediated generation and repair of DSBs in cells. ciCas9 is a rapidly activated, single-component Cas9 variant engineered by replacing the protein's REC2 domain with the BCL-xL protein and fusing an interacting BH3 peptide to the C terminus. ciCas9 can be tunably activated by a compound that disrupts the BCL-xL-BH3 interaction within minutes. DSB-ddPCR demonstrates time-resolved, highly quantitative, and targeted measurement of DSBs. Combining these tools facilitated an unprecedented exploration of the kinetics of Cas9-mediated DNA cleavage and repair. We find that sgRNAs targeting different sites generally induce cleavage within minutes and repair within 1 or 2 h. However, we observe distinct kinetic profiles, even for proximal sites, and this suggests that target sequence and chromatin state modulate cleavage and repair kinetics.