Gene Therapy (2017) 24, 144–150; doi:10.1038/gt.2016.72; published online 1 December 2016

Non-viral delivery of genome-editing nucleases for gene therapy

M Wang1,2, Z A Glass1 and Q Xu1

  1. 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
  2. 2Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosystems, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Correspondence: Professor/Dr Q Xu, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, 4 Colby Street, Medford 02155, MA, USA. E-mail:

Received 2 March 2016; Revised 22 September 2016; Accepted 13 October 2016
Accepted article preview online 31 October 2016; Advance online publication 1 December 2016

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation grant (DMR 1452122) awarded to Dr Qiaobing Xu



Manipulating the genetic makeup of mammalian cells using programmable nuclease-based genome-editing technology has recently evolved into a powerful avenue that holds great potential for treating genetic disorders. There are four types of genome-editing nucleases, including meganucleases, zinc finger nucleases, transcription activator-like effector nucleases and clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat-associated nucleases such as Cas9. These nucleases have been harnessed to introduce precise and specific changes of the genome sequence at virtually any genome locus of interest. The therapeutic relevance of these genome-editing technologies, however, is challenged by the safe and efficient delivery of nuclease into targeted cells. Herein, we summarize recent advances that have been made on non-viral delivery of genome-editing nucleases. In particular, we focus on non-viral delivery of Cas9/sgRNA ribonucleoproteins for genome editing. In addition, the future direction for developing non-viral delivery of programmable nucleases for genome editing is discussed.