• Authors: Elbasani E. et al.
  • Year: 2020
  • Journal: Viruses 12 952
  • Applications: in vitro / DNA / jetOPTIMUS
  • Cell type: HEK-293
    Description: Human embryonic kidney Fibroblast
    Known as: HEK293, 293


CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) has revealed great potential as a tool to modulate the expression of targeted cellular genes. Here, we successfully applied the CRISPRa system to trigger the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) reactivation in latently infected cells by selectively activating ORF50 gene directly from the virus genome. We found that a nuclease-deficient Cas9 (dCas9) fused to a destabilization domain (DD) and 12 copies of the VP16 activation domain (VP192) triggered a more efficient KSHV lytic cycle and virus production when guided to two different sites on the ORF50 promoter, instead of only a single site. To our surprise, the virus reactivation induced by binding of the stable DD-dCas9-VP192 on the ORF50 promoter was even more efficient than reactivation induced by ectopic expression of ORF50. This suggests that recruitment of additional transcriptional activators to the ORF50 promoter, in addition to ORF50 itself, are needed for the efficient virus production. Further, we show that CRISPRa can be applied to selectively express the early lytic gene, ORF57, without disturbing the viral latency. Therefore, CRISPRa-based systems can be utilized to facilitate virus-host interaction studies by controlling the expression of not only cellular but also of specific KSHV genes.