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CRISPR nucleases

Recombinant, high-purity endonucleases for genome editing experiments

Choose from Cas9 (Streptococcus pyogenes) and Cas12a (Cpf1; Acidaminococcus sp. BV3L6, or Lachnospiraceae bacterium ND2006) proteins

  • Nuclear localization signals (NLSs) increase genome editing efficiency
  • Use as part of a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex
  • High-purity enzymes

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Which Cas9 enzyme to use

Comparison of Alt-R Cas9 Nucleases and Nickases. Click here to download PDF version.

  • Alt-R S.p. Cas9 nuclease

Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 is the standard Cas9 used for general genome editing. It is a high purity, recombinant S. pyogenes Cas9. The enzymes include nuclear localization sequences (NLSs) and C-terminal 6-His tags. The S. pyogenes Cas9 enzyme must be combined with a gRNA to produce a functional, target-specific editing complex. For the best editing, combine the Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 enzyme with Alt-R CRISPR gRNA in equimolar amounts.

  • Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 nuclease

Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3 is also used for general genome editing, but it offers improved specificity over wild-type Cas9, greatly reducing the risk of off-target cutting events. This Cas9 variant also preserves the high level of editing efficiency expected from a Cas9 nuclease, maintaining 90–100% on-target editing activity at most sites. For applications that are sensitive to off-target events, combining the Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3 with the optimized Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 gRNA (crRNA:tracrRNA) is highly recommended.

  • Alt-R S.p. Cas9-GFP (or RFP) nuclease

The Alt-R S.p. Cas9-GFP V3 and S.p. Cas9-RFP V3 nucleases are high purity, recombinant S. pyogenes Cas9 enzymes that are expressed as fusion proteins with nuclear localization sequences (NLSs) and C-terminal 6-His tags. These enzymes have on-target functionality comparable to wild-type S.p. Cas9 and are designed for applications that require post-transfection visualization of the protein or enrichment of edited cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). These enzymes should be combined with Alt-R CRISPR gRNA in equimolar amounts.

  • Alt-R S.p. Cas9 nickases

Cas9 nickases allow specific cutting of only one strand at the DNA target site. Cuts to both strands of DNA are accomplished by using either Alt-R S.p. Cas9 D10A Nickase V3 or Alt-R S.p. Cas9 H840A Nickase V3, with two gRNAs that target two neighboring Cas9 sites, one on either strand of the target region. There are two main reasons to consider using nickases. First, the use of two neighboring gRNAs instead of one gRNA (as used with Alt-R S.p. Cas9) can decrease off-target effects. Second, the rate of HDR is increased. For more information about using Cas9 nickases, see the application note.

  • Alt-R S.p. dCas9 protein

Alt-R S.p. dCas9 Protein V3 has mutations that result in the loss of nuclease activity. This protein can form RNP complexes with Alt-R gRNAs and bind to the target region specified by the gRNA without cutting the DNA. The primary use of dCas9 protein is to block transcription at a specific site on the genome. This is known as CRISPRi and is an alternative to RNAi for knockdown instead of knockout of genes.

Like the other Alt-R enzymes, Alt-R S.p. dCas9 Protein V3 is provided as 10 mg/mL in 50% glycerol, and it can be diluted in PBS or Opti-MEM media before use.

Cas12a (Cpf1) proteins

  • Alt-R A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) V3 nuclease

Alt-R A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) Nuclease V3 enzyme is a high purity, recombinant Acidaminococcus sp. BV3L6 Cas12a. It is useful for targeting AT-rich regions when the Cas9-specific PAM sequence (NGG) is not available. The enzymes include nuclear localization sequences (NLSs) and C-terminal 6-His tags. The Cas12a enzyme must be combined with a gRNA to produce a functional, target-specific editing complex. For the best editing, combine Alt-R A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) Nuclease V3 enzyme with optimized Alt-R CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) crRNA in equimolar amounts.

Attention: Unlike S. pyogenes Cas9, which cleaves most NGG PAM sites to some degree, some of the tested TTTV sites show no cleavage by A.s. Cas12a nuclease. We recommend using positive control crRNAs to establish that your cells can be edited by Cas12a. In addition, we suggest testing 3 or more crRNAs per target gene.

  • Alt-R A.s. or L.b. Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra Nucleases

The Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra Nucleases are also useful for targeting AT-rich regions without available Cas9-specific PAM sequences.  However, they have much higher on-target potency than wild-type A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1). The Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra also can recognize many TTTT PAM sites in addition to TTTV motifs, increasing target range for genome editing studies. Furthermore, the new Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra nucleases are active at room temperature, making them flexible tools for applications requiring delivery at lower temperatures.

Comparison of CRISPR genome editing using Cas9 vs. Cas12a (Cpf1)

 Cas9 systemCas12a system (Cpf1)
ApplicationsGeneral genome editing
  • For species with AT-rich genomes
  • For regions with limiting design space for use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system
Ribonucleoprotein components
  • gRNA options:
    1. crRNA and tracrRNA
    2. sgRNA
  • Cas9 endonuclease
  • crRNA
  • Cas12a endonuclease
Variants
  • Wild-type
  • HiFi
  • Nickases (H840A and D10A)
  • Cas9-GFP (or RFP)
  • Wild-type
  • Ultra (Improved performance)
Cas9 crRNA:tracrRNA (option 1)

crRNA

  • Native: 42 nt
  • Alt-R: 35–36 nt (36 nt recommended)

tracrRNA

  • Native: 89 nt
  • Alt-R: 67 nt
Cas9 sgRNA (option 2)
  • Alt-R: 99–100 nt (100 nt recommended)
Cas12a crRNA
  • Native: 42–44 nt
  • Alt-R: 40–44 nt (41 nt recommended)
CRISPR enzyme
  • Class 2, Cas type II
  • M.W.*: 162,200 g/mol
  • Endonuclease domains: RuvC-like and HNH
  • Class 2, Cas type V
  • M.W.*: 156,400 g/mol
  • Endonuclease domain: RuvC-like only
DNA cleavage
  • Wild-type and HiFi: Blunt-ended cut 3 bases upstream of the protospacer sequence
  • D10A nickase with paired gRNAs: 5′ overhang
  • H840A nickase with paired gRNAs: 3′ overhang
  • PAM site often destroyed during genome editing
  • 5′ overhanging cut on the 5′ side of the protospacer sequence
  • PAM site may be preserved after genome editing
PAM sequenceNGG
  • TTTV for Cas12a V3
  • TTTN for Cas12a Ultra

Current recommendations for Alt-R RNP delivery
  • Lipid-mediated transfection
  • Electroporation (Alt-R enhancer recommended)
  • Microinjection
  • Electroporation (Alt-R enhancer required for Cas 12a V3 and recommended for Cas 12a Ultra)
  • Microinjection

* Molecular weight of Alt-R nuclease
N = any base; V = A, C, or G

This comparison table is available for download (see page 2).

Cas9 Nuclease

Improved editing efficiency using Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3

Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 is designed to maximize the efficiency of genome editing across a broad number of sites. Modification of the expression construct facilitates nucleus-targeted delivery, resulting in enhanced cleavage, particularly at difficult targets (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 genome editing efficiency even at challenging target sites. Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes were formed with 1 of the 2 wild-type Cas9 proteins—Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease 3NLS (light blue) or Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 (dark blue), combined with an Alt-R crRNA:tracrRNA complex targeting one of 11 loci on the human HPRT gene. RNP complexes (4 µM) were delivered into HEK-293 cells by nucleofection. Total editing at the on-target loci was calculated by NGS. N=1.

Increased specificity using Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3

As with the wild-type Alt-R Cas9 Nuclease V3, modification of the expression construct facilitates nucleus-targeted delivery, resulting in enhanced on-target cleavage by Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3. However, Alt-R HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3 also provides superior cutting specificity (minimized off-target editing; Figure 2).

Figure 2. Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3 facilitates near-WT on-target editing potency and reduces off-target site editing. RNP complexes were formed with either Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 or Alt-R S.p. HiFi Cas9 Nuclease V3, combined with an Alt-R crRNA:tracrRNA complex targeting the EMX1 gene. RNP complexes (4 µM) were delivered into HEK-293 cells via nucleofection. Indel formation at the on-target locus as well as nine known off-target sites were measured by NGS (indicated on the y axis in log scale). N=1.

Potent editing with the Alt-R S.p. Cas9 nucleases

The Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 System includes potent Alt-R S.p. Cas9 nucleases. When Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease 3NLS was combined with the Alt-R CRISPR crRNA and tracrRNA into a ribonucleoprotein (RNP), the system outperformed other editing approaches (Figure 3). You can expect even better editing efficiency with Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 (see Figure 2). RNP transfections also provide control of amount of editing complexes used, and the non-renewable Cas9 RNP is cleared after a short duration by endogenous mechanisms, limiting off-target editing.

Figure 3. Experiment showing that lipofection of Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 System components as a ribonucleoprotein outperforms other transient CRISPR-Cas9 approaches. Alt-R CRISPR HPRT Control crRNA complexes for human, mouse, or rat were complexed with Alt-R CRISPR tracrRNA. Resulting complexes were transfected with Cas9 expression plasmid, Cas9 mRNA, or as part of a Cas9 RNP (containing Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease 3NLS, pre-complexed with the crRNA and tracrRNA) into human (HEK-293), mouse (Hepa1-6), or rat (RG2) cell lines. The Cas9 RNP outperformed the other transient Cas9 expression approaches, and performed similar to reference HEK293-Cas9 cells that stably express S. pyogenes Cas9. Error bars represent SD, N=3.

IDT’s Alt-R S.p. Cas9-GFP and Alt-R S.p. Cas9-RFP nucleases maintain consistent on-target activity

Figure 4. IDT fluorescent CRISPR proteins maintain consistent on-target activity across multiple guides. Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 sgRNAs were designed to target NGG PAM sites within the human HPRT gene. Guides were complexed with Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3, Cas9-GFP, or Cas9-RFP to form RNPs. RNPs were then delivered into HEK293 cells using the Lonza 96 well shuttle nucleofector at a concentration of 2.0 µM. After 48 hrs, genomic DNA was isolated (QuickExtract™ solution, Epicenter), and editing was assessed by T7El mismatch endonuclease assay. Error bars represent SD, N=3.

As shown in Figure 5, Alt-R fluorescent CRISPR nucleases enable enrichment of edited cells by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS).

Figure 5. Fluorescent CRISPR proteins can be used to enrich for edited cells by fluorescence activated cell sorting. (A) RNPs consisting of either Cas9-GFP or Cas9 V3 complexed with CRISPR-Cas9 sgRNAs targeting two sites in the HPRT gene were delivered into HEK293 cells using either Lipofectamine™ RNAiMAX (Thermo Fisher) at 10 nM RNP or using a Nucleofector™ system (Lonza) at 2 µM RNP. The graphs show the GFP signal versus cell count, where cell count has been normalized to the mode for cells that had either Cas9-GFP or Cas9 V3 delivered using either lipofection or Nucleofection™. (B) Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 sgRNAs were designed to target NGG PAM sites throughout the human genome. Guides were complexed with either Cas9-GFP or Alt-R Cas9 V3. RNPs were delivered into HEK293 cells using Lipofectamine™ RNAiMAX at 10 nM final concentration. After ~18 hrs, cells were sorted using a FACSAria™ II (Becton Dickinson) cell sorter into three subpopulations, GFP High: top 20%, Medium: 80–60%, and Low: Bottom 60% of cells based on GFP signal. Cells were then replated, and genomic DNA was isolated after 48–72 hrs. Editing was analyzed by NGS, N=1. (C) Confocal images of HEK293 cells taken approximately 18 hours after delivery of either Cas9-GFP or Alt-R Cas9 V3 protein complexed with Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 sgRNA delivered by Nucleofection™ at 2 µM RNP. Prior to imaging, live cells were incubated with Hoechst 33342 and washed with PBS. Cells were imaged in complete media in a chambered coverglass using a Leica SP8 confocal microscope.

Cas12a Nuclease (Cpf1)

Newly developed Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra enzyme increases overall editing efficiency

To enhance activity, we introduced multiple modifications to the Cas12a protein that support notable improvement in overall editing efficiency. The new Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra nuclease has higher on-target potency than the wild-type A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1). The new Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra also can recognize many TTTT PAM sites in addition to TTTV motifs, increasing target range for genome editing studies (Figure 4). Furthermore, the new Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra nuclease is active at room temperature, making it a flexible tool for applications requiring delivery at lower temperatures.

Figure 6. New A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra exhibits increased genomic editing efficiency in Jurkat and HEK-293 cells. Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes were formed with wild type (WT) or Alt-R A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra (Ultra), combined with crRNAs synthesized for 120 genomic loci to be delivered in Jurkat cells and 96 genomic loci to be delivered in HEK-293 cells. RNP complexes (4 μM) were delivered into Jurkat and HEK-293 cells via a Nucleofector™ system (Lonza) in the presence of Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Electroporation Enhancer. Genome editing efficiencies were determined by target amplification followed by next generation sequencing on an Illumina instrument. The Cas12a-associated PAM sequences are indicated below the graph. N=426, with 213 data points for WT and 213 data points for Cas12a Ultra. Each dot represents a single sample.

The electroporation enhancer is recommended for efficient genome editing with the CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) system

The Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Electroporation Enhancer is a Cas12a-specific carrier DNA that is optimized to work with the Nucleofector™ device (Lonza) and the Neon™ Transfection System (Thermo Fisher) for increased transfection efficiency and therefore, increased genome editing efficiency (Figure 5). The electroporation enhancer is non-targeting and shows no integration into the target site based on next-generation sequencing experiments.

 

Figure 7. Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Electroporation Enhancer is required for efficient CRISPR editing in ribonucleoprotein (RNP) electroporation experiments. HEK-293 cells were electroporated with 5 µM RNP [Alt-R A.s. Cpf1 Nuclease 2 NLS complexed with Alt-R CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) crRNA] as instructed in the Alt-R CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) User Guide—RNP electroporation, Nucleofector™ system (available at www.idtdna.com/CRISPR-Cpf1). 12 Cas12a PAM sites in the HPRT gene were targeted by Alt-R CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1) crRNAs. The electroporation reactions contained either no (dark blue) or 3 µM (light blue) Alt-R Cas12a (Cpf1) Electroporation Enhancer. Editing efficiency (N=3) was determined 48 hr after electroporation using the Alt-R Genome Editing Detection Kit, which provides the major components required for T7EI endonuclease assays. PAM = protospacer adjacent motif (Cas12a PAM sequence is TTTV); x-axis: numbers specify gene locations; S = sense strand; AS = antisense strand.

User guides and protocols

Improved enzymes: All Alt-R enzymes [Cas9 nuclease, HiFi Cas9 nuclease, Cas9 nickases, and Cas12a (Cpf1) nuclease] have recently been further optimized to deliver the most trusted results in your research. The latest versions (Alt-R S.p. Cas9 Nuclease V3 and A.s. Cas12a (Cpf1) Ultra) can be directly substituted into the protocols in place of the prior Alt-R enzymes.

Alt-R CRISPR-Cas9 System

Alt-R CRISPR-Cpf1 System

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