Repurposing CRISPR as an RNA-guided platform for sequence-specific control of gene expression.
ABSTRACT: Targeted gene regulation on a genome-wide scale is a powerful strategy for interrogating, perturbing, and engineering cellular systems. Here, we develop a method for controlling gene expression based on Cas9, an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease from a type II CRISPR system. We show that a catalytically dead Cas9 lacking endonuclease activity, when coexpressed with a guide RNA, generates a DNA recognition complex that can specifically interfere with transcriptional elongation, RNA polymerase binding, or transcription factor binding. This system, which we call CRISPR interference (CRISPRi), can efficiently repress expression of targeted genes in Escherichia coli, with no detectable off-target effects. CRISPRi can be used to repress multiple target genes simultaneously, and its effects are reversible. We also show evidence that the system can be adapted for gene repression in mammalian cells. This RNA-guided DNA recognition platform provides a simple approach for selectively perturbing gene expression on a genome-wide scale.
Project description:Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by pathogenic bacteria of the genus Leptospira, which also includes free-living saprophyte strains. Many aspects of leptospiral basic biology and virulence mechanisms remain unexplored mainly due to the lack of effective genetic tools available for these bacteria. Recently, the type II CRISPR/Cas system from Streptococcus pyogenes has been widely used as an efficient genome engineering tool in bacteria by inducing double-strand breaks (DSBs) in the desired genomic targets caused by an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease called Cas9, and the DSB repair associated machinery. In the present work, plasmids expressing heterologous S. pyogenes Cas9 in L. biflexa cells were generated, and the enzyme could be expressed with no apparent toxicity to leptospiral cells. However, L. biflexa cells were unable to repair RNA-guided Cas9-induced DSBs. Thus, we used a catalytically dead Cas9 (dCas9) to obtain gene silencing rather than disruption, in a strategy called CRISPR interference (CRISPRi). We demonstrated complete gene silencing in L. biflexa cells when both dCas9 and single-guide RNA (sgRNA) targeting the coding strand of the ?-galactosidase gene were expressed simultaneously. Furthermore, when the system was applied for silencing the dnaK gene, no colonies were recovered, indicating that DnaK protein is essential in Leptospira. In addition, flagellar motor switch FliG gene silencing resulted in reduced bacterial motility. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work applying the CRISPRi system in Leptospira and spirochetes in general, expanding the tools available for understanding leptospiral biology.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas9 system provides the ability to edit, repress, activate, or mark any gene (or DNA element) by pairing of a programmable single guide RNA (sgRNA) with a complementary sequence on the DNA target. Here we present a new method for small-molecule control of CRISPR-Cas9 function through insertion of RNA aptamers into the sgRNA. We show that CRISPR-Cas9-based gene repression (CRISPRi) can be either activated or deactivated in a dose-dependent fashion over a >10-fold dynamic range in response to two different small-molecule ligands. Since our system acts directly on each target-specific sgRNA, it enables new applications that require differential and opposing temporal control of multiple genes.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas9 RNA-guided endonuclease system allows precise and efficient modification of complex genomes and is continuously developed to enhance specificity, alter targeting and add new functional moieties. However, one area yet to be explored is the base chemistry of the associated RNA molecules. Here we show the design and optimisation of hybrid DNA-RNA CRISPR and tracr molecules based on structure-guided approaches. Through careful mapping of the ribose requirements of Cas9, we develop hybrid versions possessing minimal RNA residues, which are sufficient to direct specific nuclease activity in vitro and in vivo with reduced off-target activity. We identify critical regions within these molecules that require ribose nucleotides and show a direct correlation between binding affinity/stability and cellular activity. This is the first demonstration of a non-RNA-guided Cas9 endonuclease and first step towards eliminating the ribose dependency of Cas9 to develop a XNA-programmable endonuclease.
Project description:Background The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system has become a powerful tool for functional genomics in plants. The RNA-guided nuclease can be used to not only generate precise genomic mutations, but also to manipulate gene expression when present as a deactivated protein (dCas9). Results In this study, we describe a vector toolkit for analyzing dCas9-mediated activation (CRISPRa) or inactivation (CRISPRi) of gene expression in maize protoplasts. An improved maize protoplast isolation and transfection method is presented, as well as a description of dCas9 vectors to enhance or repress maize gene expression. Conclusions We anticipate that this maize protoplast toolkit will streamline the analysis of gRNA candidates and facilitate genetic studies of important trait genes in this transformation-recalcitrant plant.
Project description:Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems in bacteria and archaea use RNA-guided nuclease activity to provide adaptive immunity against invading foreign nucleic acids. Here, we report the use of type II bacterial CRISPR-Cas system in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for genome engineering. The CRISPR-Cas components, Cas9 gene and a designer genome targeting CRISPR guide RNA (gRNA), show robust and specific RNA-guided endonuclease activity at targeted endogenous genomic loci in yeast. Using constitutive Cas9 expression and a transient gRNA cassette, we show that targeted double-strand breaks can increase homologous recombination rates of single- and double-stranded oligonucleotide donors by 5-fold and 130-fold, respectively. In addition, co-transformation of a gRNA plasmid and a donor DNA in cells constitutively expressing Cas9 resulted in near 100% donor DNA recombination frequency. Our approach provides foundations for a simple and powerful genome engineering tool for site-specific mutagenesis and allelic replacement in yeast.
Project description:Genome editing allows for the precise manipulation of DNA sequences in a cell making this technology essential for understanding gene function. CRISPR/Cas9 is a targeted genome-editing platform derived from bacterial adaptive immune system and has been repurposed into a genome-editing tool. The RNA-guided DNA endonuclease, Cas9 can be easily programmed to target new sites by altering its guide RNA sequence, making this technology easier, more efficient, scalable and an indispensable tool in biological research. This technology has helped genetically engineer animal models to understand disease mechanisms and elucidate molecular details that can be exploited for improved therapeutic outcomes. In this review, we describe the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing mechanism, CRISPR-screening methods, therapeutic targeting of CRISPR in animal models and in cancer immunotherapy. We also discuss the ongoing clinical trials using this tool, limitations of this tool that might impede the clinical applicability of CRISPR-Cas9 and future directions for developing effective CRISPR-Cas9 delivery systems that may improve cancer therapeutics.
Project description:Type II CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) systems use an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease, Cas9, to generate double-strand breaks in invasive DNA during an adaptive bacterial immune response. Cas9 has been harnessed as a powerful tool for genome editing and gene regulation in many eukaryotic organisms. We report 2.6 and 2.2 angstrom resolution crystal structures of two major Cas9 enzyme subtypes, revealing the structural core shared by all Cas9 family members. The architectures of Cas9 enzymes define nucleic acid binding clefts, and single-particle electron microscopy reconstructions show that the two structural lobes harboring these clefts undergo guide RNA-induced reorientation to form a central channel where DNA substrates are bound. The observation that extensive structural rearrangements occur before target DNA duplex binding implicates guide RNA loading as a key step in Cas9 activation.
Project description:Cas9 is an endonuclease that can be programed to autonomously deliver diverse effectors to specified genetic addresses. High-resolution structures of this protein and its associated CRISPR RNA guide explain the molecular mechanisms of CRISPR-RNA-guided DNA recognition and provide a molecular blueprint that has facilitated structure-guided functional remodeling. Here we retrace events that led from early efforts to understand the central role of Cas9 in CRISPR-mediated adaptive immunity to contemporary efforts aimed at developing and deploying this enzyme for programmable genetic editing.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system has revolutionized mammalian somatic cell genetics. Genome-wide functional screens using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout or dCas9 fusion-mediated inhibition/activation (CRISPRi/a) are powerful techniques for discovering phenotype-associated gene function. We systematically assessed the DNA sequence features that contribute to single guide RNA (sgRNA) efficiency in CRISPR-based screens. Leveraging the information from multiple designs, we derived a new sequence model for predicting sgRNA efficiency in CRISPR/Cas9 knockout experiments. Our model confirmed known features and suggested new features including a preference for cytosine at the cleavage site. The model was experimentally validated for sgRNA-mediated mutation rate and protein knockout efficiency. Tested on independent data sets, the model achieved significant results in both positive and negative selection conditions and outperformed existing models. We also found that the sequence preference for CRISPRi/a is substantially different from that for CRISPR/Cas9 knockout and propose a new model for predicting sgRNA efficiency in CRISPRi/a experiments. These results facilitate the genome-wide design of improved sgRNA for both knockout and CRISPRi/a studies.
Project description:The RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 (CRISPR-Cas9) genome editing system has been widely used for biomedical research and holds great potential for therapeutic applications in eukaryotes. The conventional vector-based CRISPR-Cas9 delivery system requires two different RNA polymerase promoters for expression of the guide RNA (gRNA) and Cas9 endonuclease. The large size and relative complexity of such CRISPR transgene cassettes impede their broad implementation, especially in gene therapy applications with viral vectors that have a limited packaging capacity. Here, we report the design of a single-promoter-driven CRISPR-Cas9 system that uses the dual-polymerase (Pol II and Pol III) activity of the H1 promoter. This size reduction strategy of the vector insert provides a significant titer advantage in the lentiviral vector over the regular CRISPR system.