Efficient in vivo editing of OTC-deficient patient-derived primary human hepatocytes

Samantha L. Ginn, Anais K. Amaya, Sophia H.Y. Liao, Erhua Zhu, Sharon C. Cunningham, Michael Lee, Claus V. Hallwirth, Grant J. Logan, Szun S. Tay, Anthony J. Cesare, Hilda A. Pickett, Markus Grompe, Kimberley Dilworth, Leszek Lisowski, Ian E. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Genome editing technology has immense therapeutic potential and is likely to rapidly supplant contemporary gene addition approaches. Key advantages include the capacity to directly repair mutant loci with resultant recovery of physiological gene expression and maintenance of durable therapeutic effects in replicating cells. In this study, we aimed to repair a disease-causing point mutation in the ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) locus in patient-derived primary human hepatocytes in vivo at therapeutically relevant levels. Methods: Editing reagents for precise CRISPR/SaCas9-mediated cleavage and homology-directed repair (HDR) of the human OTC locus were first evaluated against an OTC minigene cassette transposed into the mouse liver. The editing efficacy of these reagents was then tested on the native OTC locus in patient-derived primary human hepatocytes xenografted into the FRG (Fah-/-Rag2-/-Il2rg-/-) mouse liver. A highly human hepatotropic capsid (NP59) was used for adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene transfer. Editing events were characterised using next-generation sequencing and restoration of OTC expression was evaluated using immunofluorescence. Results: Following AAV-mediated delivery of editing reagents to patient-derived primary human hepatocytes in vivo, OTC locus-specific cleavage was achieved at efficiencies of up to 72%. Importantly, successful editing was observed in up to 29% of OTC alleles at clinically relevant vector doses. No off-target editing events were observed at the top 10 in silico-predicted sites in the genome. Conclusions: We report efficient single-nucleotide correction of a disease-causing mutation in the OTC locus in patient-derived primary human hepatocytes in vivo at levels that, if recapitulated in the clinic, would provide benefit for even the most therapeutically challenging liver disorders. Key challenges for clinical translation include the cell cycle dependence of classical HDR and mitigation of unintended on- and off-target editing events. Lay summary: The ability to efficiently and safely correct disease-causing mutations remains the holy grail of gene therapy. Herein, we demonstrate, for the first time, efficient in vivo correction of a patient-specific disease-causing mutation in the OTC gene in primary human hepatocytes, using therapeutically relevant vector doses. We also highlight the challenges that need to be overcome for this technology to be translated into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100065
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • NP59 capsid
  • OTC deficiency
  • genome editing
  • homology-directed repair
  • humanised FRG mice
  • primary human hepatocytes
  • recombinant AAV
  • synthetic capsid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Internal Medicine
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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