Precise Gene Editing Preserves Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function following Transient p53-Mediated DNA Damage Response.
Precise gene editing in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) holds promise for treating genetic diseases. However, responses triggered by programmable nucleases in HSPCs are poorly characterized and may negatively impact HSPC engraftment and long-term repopulation capacity. Here, we induced either one or several DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) with optimized zinc-finger and CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases and monitored DNA damage response (DDR) foci induction, cell-cycle progression, and transcriptional responses in HSPC subpopulations, with up to single-cell resolution. p53-mediated DDR pathway activation was the predominant response to even single-nuclease-induced DSBs across all HSPC subtypes analyzed. Excess DSB load and/or adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated delivery of DNA repair templates induced cumulative p53 pathway activation, constraining proliferation, yield, and engraftment of edited HSPCs. However, functional impairment was reversible when DDR burden was low and could be overcome by transient p53 inhibition. These findings provide molecular and functional evidence for feasible and seamless gene editing in HSPCs. View Publication