Redesigning recombinase specificity for safe harbor sites in the human genome

Mark C. Wallen, Thomas Gaj, Carlos F. Barbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) are valuable tools for genetic engineering due to their ability to manipulate DNA in a highly specific manner. Engineered zinc-finger and TAL effector recombinases, in particular, are two classes of SSRs composed of customdesigned DNA-binding domains fused to a catalytic domain derived from the resolvase/ invertase family of serine recombinases. While TAL effector and zinc-finger proteins can be assembled to recognize a wide range of possible DNA sequences, recombinase catalytic specificity has been constrained by inherent base requirements present within each enzyme. In order to further expand the targeted recombinase repertoire, we used a genetic screen to isolate enhanced mutants of the Bin and Tn21 recombinases that recognize target sites outside the scope of other engineered recombinases.We determined the specific base requirements for recombination by these enzymes and demonstrate their potential for genome engineering by selecting for variants capable of specifically recombining target sites present in the human CCR5 gene and the AAVS1 safe harbor locus. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that complementing functional characterization with protein engineering is a potentially powerful approach for generating recombinases with expanded targeting capabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0139123
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 28 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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