Targeting specificity of APOBEC-based cytosine base editor in human iPSCs determined by whole genome sequencing

Erica McGrath, Hyunsu Shin, Linyi Zhang, Je Nie Phue, Wells W. Wu, Rong Fong Shen, Yoon Young Jang, Javier Revollo, Zhaohui Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


DNA base editors have enabled genome editing without generating DNA double strand breaks. The applications of this technology have been reported in a variety of animal and plant systems, however, their editing specificity in human stem cells has not been studied by unbiased genome-wide analysis. Here we investigate the fidelity of cytidine deaminase-mediated base editing in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by whole genome sequencing after sustained or transient base editor expression. While base-edited iPSC clones without significant off-target modifications are identified, this study also reveals the potential of APOBEC-based base editors in inducing unintended point mutations outside of likely in silico-predicted CRISPR-Cas9 off-targets. The majority of the off-target mutations are C:G->T:A transitions or C:G->G:C transversions enriched for the APOBEC mutagenesis signature. These results demonstrate that cytosine base editor-mediated editing may result in unintended genetic modifications with distinct patterns from that of the conventional CRISPR-Cas nucleases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5353
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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