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Type-III CRISPR-Cas systems have recently been adopted for sequence-specific detection of SARS-CoV-2. Here, we repurpose the type III-A CRISPR complex from Thermus thermophilus (TtCsm) for programmable capture and concentration of specific RNAs from complex mixtures. The target bound TtCsm complex generates two cyclic oligoadenylates (i.e., cA3 and cA4) that allosterically activate ancillary nucleases. We show that both Can1 and Can2 nucleases cleave single-stranded RNA, single-stranded DNA, and double-stranded DNA in the presence of cA4. We integrate the Can2 nuclease with type III-A RNA capture and concentration for direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in nasopharyngeal swabs with 15 fM sensitivity. Collectively, this work demonstrates how type-III CRISPR-based RNA capture and concentration simultaneously increases sensitivity, limits time to result, lowers cost of the assay, eliminates solvents used for RNA extraction, and reduces sample handling.
Nemudraia, A., Nemudryi, A., Buyukyoruk, M., Scherffius, A. M., Zahl, T., Wiegand, T., … Wiedenheft, B. (2022). Sequence-specific capture and concentration of viral RNA by type III CRISPR system enhances diagnostic. Nature Communications, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-35445-5