A general approach to identify cell-permeable and synthetic anti-CRISPR small molecules.

Nat Cell Biol
Publication type
Journal Article

The need to control the activity and fidelity of CRISPR-associated nucleases has resulted in a demand for inhibitory anti-CRISPR molecules. The small-molecule inhibitor discovery platforms available at present are not generalizable to multiple nuclease classes, only target the initial step in the catalytic activity and require high concentrations of nuclease, resulting in inhibitors with suboptimal attributes, including poor potency. Here we report a high-throughput discovery pipeline consisting of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based assay that is generalizable to contemporary and emerging nucleases, operates at low nuclease concentrations and targets all catalytic steps. We applied this pipeline to identify BRD7586, a cell-permeable small-molecule inhibitor of SpCas9 that is twofold more potent than other inhibitors identified to date. Furthermore, unlike the reported inhibitors, BRD7586 enhanced SpCas9 specificity and its activity was independent of the genomic loci, DNA-repair pathway or mode of nuclease delivery. Overall, these studies describe a general pipeline to identify inhibitors of contemporary and emerging CRISPR-associated nucleases.

Year of Publication
Nat Cell Biol
Date Published
2022 Nov 17
PubMed ID
Grant list
N66001-17-2-4055 / United States Department of Defense | Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)