Herpes ICP8 protein stimulates homologous recombination in human cells

Melvys Valledor, Richard S. Myers, Paul C. Schiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Recombineering has transformed functional genomic analysis. Genome modification by recombineering using the phage lambda Red homologous recombination protein Beta in Escherichia coli has approached 100% efficiency. While highly efficient in E. coli, recombineering using the Red Synaptase/Exonuclease pair (SynExo) in other organisms declines in efficiency roughly correlating with phylogenetic distance from E. coli. SynExo recombinases are common to double-stranded DNA viruses infecting a variety of organisms, including humans. Human Herpes virus 1 (HHV1) encodes a SynExo comprised of ICP8 synaptase and UL12 exonuclease. In a previous study, the Herpes SynExo was reconstituted in vitro and shown to catalyze a model recombination reaction. Here we describe stimulation of gene targeting to edit a novel fluorescent protein gene in the human genome using ICP8 and compared its efficiency to that of a "humanized" version of Beta protein from phage λ. ICP8 significantly enhanced gene targeting rates in HEK 293T cells while Beta was not only unable to catalyze recombineering but inhibited gene targeting using endogenous recombination functions, despite both synaptases being well-expressed and localized to the nucleus. This proof of concept encourages developing species-specific SynExo recombinases for genome engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0200955
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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