Highly efficient base editing in Staphylococcus aureus using an engineered CRISPR RNA-guided cytidine deaminase
Novel therapeutic means against Staphylococcus aureus infections are urgently needed due to the emergence of drug-resistant S. aureus. We report the development of a CRISPR RNA-guided cytidine deaminase (pnCasSA–BEC), enabling highly efficient gene inactivation and point mutations in S. aureus. We engineered a fusion of a Cas9 nickase (Cas9D10A) and a cytidine deaminase (APOBEC1) that can be guided to a target genomic locus for gene inactivation via generating a premature stop codon. The pnCasSA–BEC system nicks the non-edited strand of the genomic DNA, directly catalyzes the conversion of cytidine (C) to uridine (U), and relies on DNA replication to achieve C → T (G → A) conversion without using donor repair templates. The development of the base-editing system will dramatically accelerate drug-target exploration in S. aureus and provides critical insights into the development of base-editing tools in other microbes.