The therapeutic application of CRISPR/Cas9 technologies for HIV

  • Saayman S
  • Ali S
  • Morris K
 et al. 
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Abstract

Introduction—The use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has led to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. Nevertheless gene-based therapies represent a promising therapeutic paradigm for HIV-1, as they have the potential for sustained viral inhibition and reduced treatment interventions. One new method amendable to a gene-based therapy is the clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 gene editing system. Areas covered—CRISPR/Cas9 can be engineered to successfully modulate an array of disease- causing genetic elements. We discuss the diverse roles that CRISPR/Cas9 may play in targeting HIV and eradicating infection. The Cas9 nuclease coupled with one or more small guide RNAs (sgRNAs) can target the provirus to mediate excision of the integrated viral genome. Moreover, a modified nuclease deficient Cas9 fused to transcription activating domains may induce targeted activation of proviral gene expression allowing for the purging of the latent reservoirs. These technologies can also be exploited to target host dependency factors such as the co-receptor CCR5, thus preventing cellular entry of the virus. Expert opinion—The diversity of the CRISPR/Cas9 technologies hold great promise for targeting different stages of the viral life cycle, and have the capacity for mediating an effective and sustained genetic therapy against HIV.

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Authors

  • Sheena Saayman

  • Stuart A Ali

  • Kevin V Morris

  • Marc S Weinberg

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