FREQUENT GENE CONVERSION IN HUMAN EMBRYOS INDUCED BY DOUBLE STRAND BREAKS
Nuria Marti Gutierrez,
Crystal Van Dyken,
Susan B. Olson,
Sacha A. Krieg,
David M Lee,
Diana H. Wu,
P. Barton Duell,
Stephen B. Heitner,
Posted 20 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.19.162214
Posted 20 Jun 2020
Applications of genome editing ultimately depend on DNA repair triggered by targeted double-strand breaks (DSBs). However, repair mechanisms in human cells remain poorly understood and vary across different cell types. Here we report that DSBs selectively induced on a mutant allele in heterozygous human embryos are repaired by gene conversion using an intact wildtype homolog as a template in up to 40% of targeted embryos. We also show that targeting of homozygous loci facilitates an interplay of non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and gene conversion and results in embryos which carry identical indel mutations on both loci. Additionally, conversion tracks may expand bidirectionally well beyond the target region leading to an extensive loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Our study demonstrates that gene conversion and NHEJ are two major DNA DSB repair mechanisms in preimplantation human embryos. While gene conversion could be applicable for gene correction, extensive LOH presents a serious safety concern. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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