Chimeric TALE recombinases with programmable DNA sequence specificity
Site-specific recombinases are powerful tools for genome engineering. Hyperactivated variants of the resolvase/invertase family of serine recombinases function without accessory factors, and thus can be re-targeted to sequences of interest by replacing native DNA-binding domains (DBDs) with engineered zinc-finger proteins (ZFPs). However, imperfect modularity with particular domains, lack of high-affinity binding to all DNA triplets, and difficulty in construction has hindered the widespread adoption of ZFPs in unspecialized laboratories. The discovery of a novel type of DBD in transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins from Xanthomonas provides an alternative to ZFPs. Here we describe chimeric TALE recombinases (TALERs): engineered fusions between a hyperactivated catalytic domain from the DNA invertase Gin and an optimized TALE architecture. We use a library of incrementally truncated TALE variants to identify TALER fusions that modify DNA with efficiency and specificity comparable to zinc-finger recombinases in bacterial cells. We also show that TALERs recombine DNA in mammalian cells. The TALER architecture described herein provides a platform for insertion of customized TALE domains, thus significantly expanding the targeting capacity of engineered recombinases and their potential applications in biotechnology and medicine.