genome-editing systems generally rely on inducing DNA double-strand breaks
(DSBs). This may limit their utility in clinical therapies, as unwanted
mutations caused by DSBs can have deleterious effects. CRISPR/Cas9 system has
recently been repurposed to enable target gene activation, allowing regulation
of endogenous gene expression without creating DSBs.
However, in vivo implementation of this gain-of-function system has proven difficult. Here, we report a robust system for in vivo activation of endogenous target genes through trans-epigenetic remodeling. The system relies on recruitment of Cas9 and transcriptional activation complexes to target loci by modified single guide RNAs. As proof-of-concept, we used this technology to treat mouse models of diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and acute kidney disease. Results demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated target gene activation can be achieved in vivo, leading to measurable phenotypes and amelioration of disease symptoms. This establishes new avenues for developing targeted epigenetic therapies against human diseases.