Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.5, 2053-2066, 2021
A CRISPR/Cas9 eraser strategy for contamination-free PCR end-point detection
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a central technology for molecular diagnostics, is highly sensitive but susceptible to the risk of false positives caused by aerosol contamination, especially when an end-point detection mode is applied. Here, we proposed a solution by designing a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/Cas9 eraser strategy for eliminating potential contamination amplification. The CRISPR/Cas9 engineered eraser is firstly adopted into artpcr reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) system to achieve contamination-free RNA detection. Subsequently, we extended this CRISPR/Cas9 eraser to the PCR system. We engineered conventional PCR primers to enable the amplified products to contain an implanted NGG (protospacer adjacent motif, PAM) site, which is used as a code for specific CRISPR/Cas9 recognition. Pre-incubation of Cas9/sgRNA with PCR mix leads to a selective cleavage of contamination amplicons, thus only the template DNA is amplified. The developed CRISPR/Cas9 eraser, adopted by both RT-PCR and PCR systems, showed high-fidelity detection of SARS-CoV-2 and African swine fever virus with a convenient strip test.