Multicolor CRISPR labeling of chromosomal loci in human cells.
ABSTRACT: The intranuclear location of genomic loci and the dynamics of these loci are important parameters for understanding the spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. Recently it has proven possible to visualize endogenous genomic loci in live cells by the use of transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs), as well as modified versions of the bacterial immunity clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system. Here we report the design of multicolor versions of CRISPR using catalytically inactive Cas9 endonuclease (dCas9) from three bacterial orthologs. Each pair of dCas9-fluorescent proteins and cognate single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) efficiently labeled several target loci in live human cells. Using pairs of differently colored dCas9-sgRNAs, it was possible to determine the intranuclear distance between loci on different chromosomes. In addition, the fluorescence spatial resolution between two loci on the same chromosome could be determined and related to the linear distance between them on the chromosome's physical map, thereby permitting assessment of the DNA compaction of such regions in a live cell.
Project description:The transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) and the RNA-guided clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) associated protein (Cas9) utlilize distinct molecular mechanisms in targeting site recognition. The two proteins can be modified to carry additional functional domains to regulate expression of genomic loci in mammalian cells. In this study, we have compared the two systems in activation and suppression of the Oct4 and Nanog loci by targeting their enhancers. Although both are able to efficiently activate the luciferase reporters, the CRISPR/dCas9 system is much less potent in activating the endogenous loci and in the application of reprogramming somatic cells to iPS cells. Nevertheless, repression by CRISPR/dCas9 is comparable to or even better than TALE repressors. We demonstrated that dCas9 protein binding results in significant physical interference to binding of native transcription factors at enhancer, less efficient active histone markers induction or recruitment of activating complexes in gene activation. This study thus highlighted the merits and drawbacks of transcription regulation by each system. A combined approach of TALEs and CRISPR/dCas9 should provide an optimized solution to regulate genomic loci and to study genetic elements such as enhancers in biological processes including somatic cell reprogramming and guided differentiation.
Project description:Elucidating the spatiotemporal organization of the genome inside the nucleus is imperative to our understanding of the regulation of genes and non-coding sequences during development and environmental changes. Emerging techniques of chromatin imaging promise to bridge the long-standing gap between sequencing studies, which reveal genomic information, and imaging studies that provide spatial and temporal information of defined genomic regions. Here, we demonstrate such an imaging technique based on two orthologues of the bacterial clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9). By fusing eGFP/mRuby2 to catalytically inactive versions of Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus Cas9, we show robust visualization of telomere repeats in live leaf cells of Nicotiana benthamiana. By tracking the dynamics of telomeres visualized by CRISPR-dCas9, we reveal dynamic telomere movements of up to 2 ?m over 30 min during interphase. Furthermore, we show that CRISPR-dCas9 can be combined with fluorescence-labelled proteins to visualize DNA-protein interactions in vivo. By simultaneously using two dCas9 orthologues, we pave the way for the imaging of multiple genomic loci in live plants cells. CRISPR imaging bears the potential to significantly improve our understanding of the dynamics of chromosomes in live plant cells.
Project description:Direct visualization of genomic loci in the 3D nucleus is important for understanding the spatial organization of the genome and its association with gene expression. Various DNA FISH methods have been developed in the past decades, all involving denaturing dsDNA and hybridizing fluorescent nucleic acid probes. Here we report a novel approach that uses in vitro constituted nuclease-deficient clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated caspase 9 (Cas9) complexes as probes to label sequence-specific genomic loci fluorescently without global DNA denaturation (Cas9-mediated fluorescence in situ hybridization, CASFISH). Using fluorescently labeled nuclease-deficient Cas9 (dCas9) protein assembled with various single-guide RNA (sgRNA), we demonstrated rapid and robust labeling of repetitive DNA elements in pericentromere, centromere, G-rich telomere, and coding gene loci. Assembling dCas9 with an array of sgRNAs tiling arbitrary target loci, we were able to visualize nonrepetitive genomic sequences. The dCas9/sgRNA binary complex is stable and binds its target DNA with high affinity, allowing sequential or simultaneous probing of multiple targets. CASFISH assays using differently colored dCas9/sgRNA complexes allow multicolor labeling of target loci in cells. In addition, the CASFISH assay is remarkably rapid under optimal conditions and is applicable for detection in primary tissue sections. This rapid, robust, less disruptive, and cost-effective technology adds a valuable tool for basic research and genetic diagnosis.
Project description:Bacterial type II CRISPR-Cas9 systems have been widely adapted for RNA-guided genome editing and transcription regulation in eukaryotic cells, yet their in vivo target specificity is poorly understood. Here we mapped genome-wide binding sites of a catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) from Streptococcus pyogenes loaded with single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Each of the four sgRNAs we tested targets dCas9 to between tens and thousands of genomic sites, frequently characterized by a 5-nucleotide seed region in the sgRNA and an NGG protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). Chromatin inaccessibility decreases dCas9 binding to other sites with matching seed sequences; thus 70% of off-target sites are associated with genes. Targeted sequencing of 295 dCas9 binding sites in mESCs transfected with catalytically active Cas9 identified only one site mutated above background levels. We propose a two-state model for Cas9 binding and cleavage, in which a seed match triggers binding but extensive pairing with target DNA is required for cleavage.
Project description:HIV-1 provirus integration results in a persistent latently infected reservoir that is recalcitrant to combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) with lifelong treatment being the only option. The "shock and kill" strategy aims to eradicate latent HIV by reactivating proviral gene expression in the context of cART treatment. Gene-specific transcriptional activation can be achieved using the RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9 system comprising single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) with a nuclease-deficient Cas9 mutant (dCas9) fused to the VP64 transactivation domain (dCas9-VP64). We engineered this system to target 23 sites within the long terminal repeat promoter of HIV-1 and identified a "hotspot" for activation within the viral enhancer sequence. Activating sgRNAs transcriptionally modulated the latent proviral genome across multiple different in vitro latency cell models including T cells comprising a clonally integrated mCherry-IRES-Tat (LChIT) latency system. We detected consistent and effective activation of latent virus mediated by activator sgRNAs, whereas latency reversal agents produced variable activation responses. Transcriptomic analysis revealed dCas9-VP64/sgRNAs to be highly specific, while the well-characterized chemical activator TNF? induced widespread gene dysregulation. CRISPR-mediated gene activation represents a novel system which provides enhanced efficiency and specificity in a targeted latency reactivation strategy and represents a promising approach to a "functional cure" of HIV/AIDS.
Project description:The prokaryotic CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats)-associated protein, Cas9, has been widely adopted as a tool for editing, imaging, and regulating eukaryotic genomes. However, our understanding of how to select single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) that mediate efficient Cas9 activity is incomplete, as we lack insight into how chromatin impacts Cas9 targeting. To address this gap, we analyzed large-scale genetic screens performed in human cell lines using either nuclease-active or nuclease-dead Cas9 (dCas9). We observed that highly active sgRNAs for Cas9 and dCas9 were found almost exclusively in regions of low nucleosome occupancy. In vitro experiments demonstrated that nucleosomes in fact directly impede Cas9 binding and cleavage, while chromatin remodeling can restore Cas9 access. Our results reveal a critical role of eukaryotic chromatin in dictating the targeting specificity of this transplanted bacterial enzyme, and provide rules for selecting Cas9 target sites distinct from and complementary to those based on sequence properties.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system provides a revolutionary genome editing tool for all areas of molecular biology. In long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) research, the Cas9 nuclease can delete lncRNA genes or introduce RNA-destabilizing elements into their locus. The nuclease-deficient dCas9 mutant retains its RNA-dependent DNA-binding activity and can modulate gene expression when fused to transcriptional repressor or activator domains. Here, we systematically analyze whether CRISPR approaches are suitable to target lncRNAs. Many lncRNAs are derived from bidirectional promoters or overlap with promoters or bodies of sense or antisense genes. In a genome-wide analysis, we find only 38% of 15929 lncRNA loci are safely amenable to CRISPR applications while almost two-thirds of lncRNA loci are at risk to inadvertently deregulate neighboring genes. CRISPR- but not siPOOL or Antisense Oligo (ASO)-mediated targeting of lncRNAs NOP14-AS1, LOC389641, MNX1-AS1 or HOTAIR also affects their respective neighboring genes. Frequently overlooked, the same restrictions may apply to mRNAs. For example, the tumor suppressor TP53 and its head-to-head neighbor WRAP53 are jointly affected by the same sgRNAs but not siPOOLs. Hence, despite the advantages of CRISPR/Cas9 to modulate expression bidirectionally and in cis, approaches based on ASOs or siPOOLs may be the better choice to target specifically the transcript from complex loci.
Project description:The CRISPR/dCas9 system is a powerful tool to activate the transcription of target genes in eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells, but lacks assays in complex conditions, such as the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites.In this study, to improve the transcription of the heterologously expressed biosynthetic genes for the production of epothilones, we established the CRISPR/dCas9-mediated activation technique in Myxococcus xanthus and analyzed some key factors involving in the CRISPR/dCas9 activation. We firstly optimized the cas9 codon to fit the M. xanthus cells, mutated the gene to inactivate the nuclease activity, and constructed the dCas9-activator system in an epothilone producer. We compared the improvement efficiency of different sgRNAs on the production of epothilones and the expression of the biosynthetic genes. We also compared the improvement effects of different activator proteins, the ? and ? subunits of RNA polymerase, and the sigma factors ?54 and CarQ. By using a copper-inducible promoter, we determined that higher expressions of dCas9-activator improved the activation effects.Our results showed that the CRISPR/dCas-mediated transcription activation is a simple and broadly applicable technique to improve the transcriptional efficiency for the production of secondary metabolites in microorganisms. This is the first time to construct the CRISPR/dCas9 activation system in myxobacteria and the first time to assay the CRISPR/dCas9 activations for the biosynthesis of microbial secondary metabolites.
Project description:Integration of the HIV-1 provirus in the host genome ensures a persistent supply of latently infected cells. This latent reservoir is recalcitrant to antiretroviral therapy (ART) making lifelong treatment the only option for patients. The â??shock and killâ?? strategy aims to eradicate latent HIV by reactivating proviral gene expression followed by ART treatment. Gene specific transcriptional activation can be achieved using the RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9 system comprising small guide RNAs (sgRNAs) with a nuclease deficient Cas9 mutant (dCas9) fused to the VP64 transactivation domain (dCas9-VP64). Â We engineered this system to target 23 sites within the LTR promoter of HIV-1 and identified a â??hotspotâ?? for activation. We studied the functionality of activating sgRNAs to transcriptionally modulate the latent proviral genome across multiple differentÂ in vitroÂ latency cell models including several J-Lat, ACH2 J1.1 and the CEM T cell model comprising a single clonal population of integrated mCherry-IRES-Tat from a full-length HIV LTR (LChIT).Â While we observed variable responses of latent cell models to well-characterized chemical stimuli, we detected consistent efficient activation of latent virus mediated by activator sgRNAs.Â In addition, transcriptome analysis of chemically treated cells revealed massive non-specific gene dysregulation whereas by comparison, dCas9-VP64/sgRNAs induced specific activation of the integrated provirus.Â In conclusion, we show the potential for CRISPR-mediated gene activation systems to provide enhanced efficiency and specificity in a targeted latency reactivation strategy. This represents a promising approach to a â??functional cureâ?? of HIV/AIDS. Three experimental conditions (sgRNA control, TNF treated and sgRNA against the LTR of HIV-1) were analyzed in triplicate using two sequencing lanes
Project description:The clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) gene-editing system has been repurposed for live-cell genomic imaging, but existing approaches rely on fluorescent protein reporters, making sensitive and continuous imaging difficult. Here, we present a fluorophore-based live-cell genomic imaging system that consists of a nuclease-deactivated mutant of the Cas9 protein (dCas9), a molecular beacon (MB), and an engineered single-guide RNA (sgRNA) harboring a unique MB target sequence (sgRNA-MTS), termed CRISPR/MB. Specifically, dCas9 and sgRNA-MTS are first co-expressed to target a specific locus in cells, followed by delivery of MBs that can then hybridize to MTS to illuminate the target locus. We demonstrated the feasibility of this approach for quantifying genomic loci, for monitoring chromatin dynamics, and for dual-color imaging when using two orthogonal MB/MTS pairs. With flexibility in selecting different combinations of fluorophore/quencher pairs and MB/MTS sequences, our CRISPR/MB hybrid system could be a promising platform for investigating chromatin activities.