The discovery of CRISPR–Cas9 and its widespread use has revolutionised and propelled research in biological sciences. Although the ability to target Cas9's nuclease activity to specific sites via an easily designed guide RNA (gRNA) has made it an adaptable gene editing system, it has many characteristics that could be improved for use in biotechnology. Cas9 exhibits significant off-target activity and low on-target nuclease activity in certain contexts. Scientists have undertaken ambitious protein engineering campaigns to bypass these limitations, producing several promising variants of Cas9. Cas9 variants with improved and alternative activities provide exciting new tools to expand the scope and fidelity of future CRISPR applications.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society