Research Topic

Opportunities and Challenges for Mitochondrial Genome Editing

About this Research Topic

The CRISPR system, particularly CRISPR/Cas9, has been developed as a robust and versatile platform for manipulating the genomes of a variety of species. In recent years, thousands of relevant reports have suggested its powerful potential applications for human gene therapy and life science research, as well as animal and plant breeding. Hence, further developing a mitochondria-adapted CRISPR/Cas9 system will be of great significance and provide huge opportunities for mtDNA editing and mtDNA disease therapy.

Surprisingly, only a handful of articles in relation to mitochondrial DNA targeting or editing have been published since the CRISPR/Cas9 technology was popularized in 2013, suggesting the revolution may not apply to mitochondrial genome engineering. Although the programed protein-only nucleases such as mtZFNs and mitoTALENs have been reported to function effectively in mammalian mitochondria, it’s still a big challenge for the CRISPR/Cas9 system due to the difficulty for the guide RNA import. In addition, there are still several obstacles for mitochondrial genome editing, such as the indefinite mtDNA repair mechanism, multiple copies of mitochondria and mtDNA, or the risk of cell injury or apoptosis caused by mtDNA targeting.

In this Research Topic, we aim to highlight the opportunities and challenges for mitochondrial genome editing. Manuscripts that we’d like to collect include:
• Research efforts made for mtDNA targeting or editing using mitoZFNs, mitoTALENs, mitoCRISPR/Cas9 or targeting technologies.
• Original Research or Review articles related to some of the challenges of mitochondrial genome editing, including mitochondrial import of proteins and/or short RNAs, replication and repair mechanisms of mtDNA, controlling mitochondria or mtDNA copies, and cell injury or apoptosis caused by mtDNA targeting.
• Original Research, Methods, or Review articles on typical or potential cell or animal models with mitochondrial heterogeneity for mtDNA targeting assays
• Original Research or Review articles on mitochondrial diseases with typical mtDNA mutations and the possibility of mtDNA editing therapy, as well as the attempts to study them using mitochondrial genome editing techniques.
• Other opportunities and challenges for mitochondrial genome editing, as well as the efforts that may promote it and the significance beyond mitochondrial disease therapy.

Manuscript types that will be firstly considered are Original Research articles and Brief Research Reports. Methods and Review articles are not encouraged if not declared as above.

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank undergraduate students Jiuchun Yin (College of Landscape Architecture and Art) and Xiangyu Meng (College of Innovation and Experiment) from Northwest A&F University (China) for drawing the Cover Image.


Keywords: CRISPR, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, genome editing, gene targeting


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The CRISPR system, particularly CRISPR/Cas9, has been developed as a robust and versatile platform for manipulating the genomes of a variety of species. In recent years, thousands of relevant reports have suggested its powerful potential applications for human gene therapy and life science research, as well as animal and plant breeding. Hence, further developing a mitochondria-adapted CRISPR/Cas9 system will be of great significance and provide huge opportunities for mtDNA editing and mtDNA disease therapy.

Surprisingly, only a handful of articles in relation to mitochondrial DNA targeting or editing have been published since the CRISPR/Cas9 technology was popularized in 2013, suggesting the revolution may not apply to mitochondrial genome engineering. Although the programed protein-only nucleases such as mtZFNs and mitoTALENs have been reported to function effectively in mammalian mitochondria, it’s still a big challenge for the CRISPR/Cas9 system due to the difficulty for the guide RNA import. In addition, there are still several obstacles for mitochondrial genome editing, such as the indefinite mtDNA repair mechanism, multiple copies of mitochondria and mtDNA, or the risk of cell injury or apoptosis caused by mtDNA targeting.

In this Research Topic, we aim to highlight the opportunities and challenges for mitochondrial genome editing. Manuscripts that we’d like to collect include:
• Research efforts made for mtDNA targeting or editing using mitoZFNs, mitoTALENs, mitoCRISPR/Cas9 or targeting technologies.
• Original Research or Review articles related to some of the challenges of mitochondrial genome editing, including mitochondrial import of proteins and/or short RNAs, replication and repair mechanisms of mtDNA, controlling mitochondria or mtDNA copies, and cell injury or apoptosis caused by mtDNA targeting.
• Original Research, Methods, or Review articles on typical or potential cell or animal models with mitochondrial heterogeneity for mtDNA targeting assays
• Original Research or Review articles on mitochondrial diseases with typical mtDNA mutations and the possibility of mtDNA editing therapy, as well as the attempts to study them using mitochondrial genome editing techniques.
• Other opportunities and challenges for mitochondrial genome editing, as well as the efforts that may promote it and the significance beyond mitochondrial disease therapy.

Manuscript types that will be firstly considered are Original Research articles and Brief Research Reports. Methods and Review articles are not encouraged if not declared as above.

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank undergraduate students Jiuchun Yin (College of Landscape Architecture and Art) and Xiangyu Meng (College of Innovation and Experiment) from Northwest A&F University (China) for drawing the Cover Image.


Keywords: CRISPR, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, genome editing, gene targeting


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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