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Conditional Recruitment to a DNA-Bound CRISPR–Cas Complex Using a Colocalization-Dependent Protein Switch

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journal contribution
posted on 20.08.2020, 20:44 by Robin L. Kirkpatrick, Kieran Lewis, Robert A. Langan, Marc J. Lajoie, Scott E. Boyken, Madeleine Eakman, David Baker, Jesse G. Zalatan
To spatially control biochemical functions at specific sites within a genome, we have engineered a synthetic switch that activates when bound to its DNA target site. The system uses two CRISPR–Cas complexes to colocalize components of a de novo-designed protein switch (Co-LOCKR) to adjacent sites in the genome. Colocalization triggers a conformational change in the switch from an inactive closed state to an active open state with an exposed functional peptide. We prototype the system in yeast and demonstrate that DNA binding triggers activation of the switch, recruitment of a transcription factor, and expression of a downstream reporter gene. This DNA-triggered Co-LOCKR switch provides a platform to engineer sophisticated functions that should only be executed at a specific target site within the genome, with potential applications in a wide range of synthetic systems including epigenetic regulation, imaging, and genetic logic circuits.