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A Chemical Toolbox for Labeling and Degrading Engineered Cas Proteins

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journal contribution
posted on 12.05.2021, 23:43 by Rodrigo A. Gama-Brambila, Jie Chen, Yasamin Dabiri, Georg Tascher, Václav Němec, Christian Münch, Guangqi Song, Stefan Knapp, Xinlai Cheng
The discovery of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and their associated proteins (Cas) has revolutionized the field of genome and epigenome editing. A number of new methods have been developed to precisely control the function and activity of Cas proteins, including fusion proteins and small-molecule modulators. Proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs) represent a new concept using the ubiquitin-proteasome system to degrade a protein of interest, highlighting the significance of chemically induced protein-E3 ligase interaction in drug discovery. Here, we engineered Cas proteins (Cas9, dCas9, Cas12, and Cas13) by inserting a Phe-Cys-Pro-Phe (FCPF) amino acid sequence (known as the π-clamp system) and demonstrate that the modified CasFCPF proteins can be (1) labeled in live cells by perfluoroaromatics carrying the fluorescein or (2) degraded by a perfluoroaromatics-functionalized PROTAC (PROTAC-FCPF). A proteome-wide analysis of PROTAC-FCPF-mediated Cas9FCPF protein degradation revealed a high target specificity, suggesting a wide range of applications of perfluoroaromatics-induced proximity in the regulation of stability, activity, and functionality of any FCPF-tagging protein.