CRISPR-based technology has become widely used as an antiviral strategy, including as a broad-spectrum human coronavirus (HCoV) therapeutic. In this work, we have designed a CRISPR-CasRx effector system with guide RNAs (gRNAs) that are cross-reactive among several HCoV species. We tested the efficacy of this pan-coronavirus effector system by evaluating the reduction in viral viability associated with different CRISPR targets in HCoV-OC43, HCoV-229E, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We determined that several CRISPR targets significantly reduce viral titer, despite the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gRNA when compared with a non-targeting, negative control gRNA. CRISPR targets reduced viral titer between 85% and >99% in HCoV-OC43, between 78% and >99% in HCoV-229E, and between 70% and 94% in SARS-CoV-2 when compared with an untreated virus control. These data establish a proof-of-concept for a pan-coronavirus CRISPR effector system that is capable of reducing viable virus in both Risk Group 2 and Risk Group 3 HCoV pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas