CRISPR with a Happy Ending: Non‐Templated DNA Repair for Prokaryotic Genome Engineering

Max Finger-Bou, Enrico Orsi, John van der Oost, Raymond H.J. Staals*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The exploration of microbial metabolism is expected to support the development of a sustainable economy and tackle several problems related to the burdens of human consumption. Microorganisms have the potential to catalyze processes that are currently unavailable, unsustainable and/or inefficient. Their metabolism can be optimized and further expanded using tools like the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and their associated proteins (CRISPR‐Cas) systems. These tools have revolutionized the field of biotechnology, as they greatly streamline the genetic engineering of organisms from all domains of life. CRISPR‐Cas and other nucleases mediate double‐strand DNA breaks, which must be repaired to prevent cell death. In prokaryotes, these breaks can be repaired through either homologous recombination, when a DNA repair template is available, or through template‐independent end joining, of which two major pathways are known. These end joining pathways depend on different sets of proteins and mediate DNA repair with different outcomes. Understanding these DNA repair pathways can be advantageous to steer the results of genome engineering experiments. In this review, we discuss different strategies for the genetic engineering of prokaryotes through either non‐homologous end joining (NHEJ) or alternative end joining (AEJ), both of which are independent of exogenous DNA repair templates
Original languageEnglish
Article number1900404
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • AEJ
  • CRISPR-Cas
  • DNA repair
  • genome editing
  • NHEJ


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