Multiplexed activation in mammalian cells using asplit-intein CRISPR/Cas12a based synthetictranscription factor

James Bryson, Jamie Auxillos, Susan J Rosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adoption of CRISPR systems for the generation of synthetic transcription factors has greatly simplified the process for upregulating endogenous gene expression, with a plethora of applications in cell biology, bioproduction and cell reprogramming. The recently discovered CRISPR/Cas12a (Cas12a) systems offer extended potential, as Cas12a is capable of processing its own crRNA array, to provide multiple individual crRNAs for subsequent targeting from a single transcript. Here we show the application of dFnCas12a-VPR in mammalian cells, with the Francisella novicida Cas12a (FnCas12a) possessing a shorter PAM sequence than Acidaminococcus sp.(As) or Lachnospiraceae bacterium (Lb) variants, enabling denser targeting of genomic loci, while performing just as well or even better than the other variants. We observe that synergistic activation and multiplexing can be achieved using crRNA arrays but also show that crRNAs expressed towards the 5 of6-crRNA arrays show evidence of enhanced activity. This not only represents a more flexible tool for transcriptional modulation but further expands our understanding of the design capabilities and limitations when considering longer crRNA arrays for multiplexed targeting.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergkab1191
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021


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