Retargeting Sleeping Beauty transposon insertions by engineered zinc finger DNA-binding domains


  • K. Voigt
  • A. Gogol-Doering
  • C. Miskey
  • W. Chen
  • T. Cathomen
  • Z. Izsvak
  • Z. Ivics


  • Molecular Therapy


  • Mol Ther 20 (10): 1852-1862


  • The Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon is a nonviral, integrating vector system with proven efficacy in preclinical animal models, and thus holds promise for future clinical applications. However, SB has a close-to-random insertion profile that could lead to genotoxic effects, thereby presenting a potential safety issue. We evaluated zinc finger (ZF) DNA-binding domains (DBDs) for their abilities to introduce a bias into SB's insertion profile. E2C, that binds a unique site in the erbB-2 gene, mediated locus-specific transposon insertions at low frequencies. A novel ZF targeting LINE1 repeats, ZF-B, showed specific binding to an 18-bp site represented by ~12,000 copies in the human genome. We mapped SB insertions using linear-amplification (LAM)-PCR and Illumina sequencing. Targeted insertions with ZF-B peaked at approximately fourfold enrichment of transposition around ZF-B binding sites yielding ~45% overall frequency of insertion into LINE1. A decrease in the ZF-B dataset with respect to transposon insertions in genes was found, suggesting that LINE1 repeats act as a sponge that "soak up" a fraction of SB insertions and thereby redirect them away from genes. Improvements in ZF technology and a careful choice of targeted genomic regions may improve the safety profile of SB for future clinical applications.