Boosting CRISPR/Cas9 multiplex editing capability with the endogenous tRNA-processing system.
ABSTRACT: The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 nuclease (Cas9) system is being harnessed as a powerful tool for genome engineering in basic research, molecular therapy, and crop improvement. This system uses a small guide RNA (gRNA) to direct Cas9 endonuclease to a specific DNA site; thus, its targeting capability is largely constrained by the gRNA-expressing device. In this study, we developed a general strategy to produce numerous gRNAs from a single polycistronic gene. The endogenous tRNA-processing system, which precisely cleaves both ends of the tRNA precursor, was engineered as a simple and robust platform to boost the targeting and multiplex editing capability of the CRISPR/Cas9 system. We demonstrated that synthetic genes with tandemly arrayed tRNA-gRNA architecture were efficiently and precisely processed into gRNAs with desired 5' targeting sequences in vivo, which directed Cas9 to edit multiple chromosomal targets. Using this strategy, multiplex genome editing and chromosomal-fragment deletion were readily achieved in stable transgenic rice plants with a high efficiency (up to 100%). Because tRNA and its processing system are virtually conserved in all living organisms, this method could be broadly used to boost the targeting capability and editing efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 toolkits.
Project description:Since its initial application in mammalian cells, CRISPR-Cas9 has rapidly become a preferred method for genome engineering experiments. The Cas9 nuclease is targeted to genomic DNA using guide RNAs (gRNA), either as the native dual RNA system consisting of a DNA-targeting CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and a trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA), or as a chimeric single guide RNA (sgRNA). Entirely DNA-free CRISPR-Cas9 systems using either Cas9 protein or Cas9 mRNA and chemically synthesized gRNAs allow for transient expression of CRISPR-Cas9 components, thereby reducing the potential for off-targeting, which is a significant advantage in therapeutic applications. In addition, the use of synthetic gRNA allows for the incorporation of chemical modifications for enhanced properties including improved stability. Previous studies have demonstrated the utility of chemically modified gRNAs, but have focused on one pattern with multiple modifications in co-electroporation with Cas9 mRNA or multiple modifications and patterns with Cas9 plasmid lipid co-transfections. Here we present gene editing results using a series of chemically modified synthetic sgRNA molecules and chemically modified crRNA:tracrRNA molecules in both electroporation and lipid transfection assessing indel formation and/or phenotypic gene knockout. We show that while modifications are required for co-electroporation with Cas9 mRNA, some modification patterns of the gRNA are toxic to cells compared to the unmodified gRNA and most modification patterns do not significantly improve gene editing efficiency. We also present modification patterns of the gRNA that can modestly improve Cas9 gene editing efficiency when co-transfected with Cas9 mRNA or Cas9 protein (> 1.5-fold difference). These results indicate that for certain applications, including those relevant to primary cells, the incorporation of some, but not all chemical modification patterns on synthetic crRNA:tracrRNA or sgRNA can be beneficial to CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.
Project description:Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is an outcrossing tetraploid legume species widely cultivated in the world. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9) system has been successfully used for genome editing in many plant species. However, the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene knockout in alfalfa is still very challenging. Our initial single gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 system had very low mutagenesis efficiency in alfalfa with no mutant phenotype. In order to develop an optimized genome editing system in alfalfa, we constructed multiplex gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 vectors by a polycistronic tRNA-gRNA approach targeting the Medicago sativa stay-green (MsSGR) gene. The replacement of CaMV35S promoter by the Arabidopsis ubiquitin promoter (AtUBQ10) to drive Cas9 expression in the multiplex gRNA system led to a significant improvement in genome editing efficiency, whereas modification of the gRNA scaffold resulted in lower editing efficiency. The most effective multiplex system exhibited 75% genotypic mutagenesis efficiency, which is 30-fold more efficient than the single gRNA vector. Importantly, phenotypic change was easily observed in the mutants, and the phenotypic mutation efficiency reached 68%. This highly efficient multiplex gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system allowed the generation of homozygous mutants with a complete knockout of the four allelic copies in the T0 generation. This optimized system offers an effective way of testing gene functions and overcomes a major barrier in the utilization of genome editing for alfalfa improvement.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system is an RNA guided nuclease system that evolved as a mechanism of adaptive immunity in bacteria. This system has been adopted for numerous genome engineering applications in research and recently, therapeutics. The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been largely implemented by delivery of Cas9 as protein, RNA, or plasmid along with a chimeric crRNA-tracrRNA guide RNA (gRNA) under the expression of a pol III promoter, such as U6. Using this approach, multiplex genome engineering has been achieved by delivering several U6-gRNA plasmids targeting multiple loci. However, this approach is limited due to the efficiently of delivering multiple plasmids to a single cell at one time. To augment the capability and accessibility of multiplexed genome engineering, we developed an efficient golden gate based method to assemble gRNAs linked by optimal Csy4 ribonuclease sequences to deliver up to 10 gRNAs as a single gRNA array transcript. Here we report the optimal expression of our guide RNA array under a strong pol II promoter. This system can be implemented alongside the myriad of CRISPR applications, allowing users to model complex biological processes requiring numerous gRNAs.
Project description:Background:The Streptococcus pyogenes CRISPR system is composed of a Cas9 endonuclease (SpCas9) and a single-stranded guide RNA (gRNA) harboring a target-specific sequence. Theoretically, SpCas9 proteins could cleave as many targeted loci as gRNAs bind in a genome. Results:We introduce a PCR-free multiple gRNA cloning system for editing plant genomes. This method consists of two steps: (1) cloning the annealed products of two single-stranded oligonucleotide fragments harboring a complimentary target-binding sequence on each strand between tRNA and gRNA scaffold sequences in a pGRNA vector; and (2) assembling tRNA-gRNA units from several pGRNA vectors with a plant binary vector containing a SpCas9 expression cassette using the Golden Gate assembly method. We validated the editing efficiency and patterns of the multiplex gRNA expression system in wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) protoplasts and in transformed plants by performing targeted deep sequencing. Two proximal cleavages by SpCas9-gRNA largely increased the editing efficiency and induced large deletions between two cleavage sites. Conclusions:This multiplex gRNA expression system enables high-throughput production of a single binary vector and increases the efficiency of plant genome editing.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The CRISPR-Cas9 system is a powerful and versatile tool for crop genome editing. However, achieving highly efficient and specific editing in polyploid species can be a challenge. The efficiency and specificity of the CRISPR-Cas9 system depends critically on the gRNA used. Here, we assessed the activities and specificities of seven gRNAs targeting 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) in hexaploid wheat protoplasts. EPSPS is the biological target of the widely used herbicide glyphosate. RESULTS:The seven gRNAs differed substantially in their on-target activities, with mean indel frequencies ranging from 0% to approximately 20%. There was no obvious correlation between experimentally determined and in silico predicted on-target gRNA activity. The presence of a single mismatch within the seed region of the guide sequence greatly reduced but did not abolish gRNA activity, whereas the presence of an additional mismatch, or the absence of a PAM, all but abolished gRNA activity. Large insertions (?20?bp) of DNA vector-derived sequence were detected at frequencies up to 8.5% of total indels. One of the gRNAs exhibited several properties that make it potentially suitable for the development of non-transgenic glyphosate resistant wheat. CONCLUSIONS:We have established a rapid and reliable method for gRNA validation in hexaploid wheat protoplasts. The method can be used to identify gRNAs that have favourable properties. Our approach is particularly suited to polyploid species, but should be applicable to any plant species amenable to protoplast transformation.
Project description:Novel applications based on the bacterial CRISPR system make genetic, genomic, transcriptional and epigenomic engineering widely accessible for the first time. A significant advantage of CRISPR over previous methods is its tremendous adaptability due to its bipartite nature. Cas9 or its engineered variants define the molecular effect, while short gRNAs determine the targeting sites. A majority of CRISPR approaches depend on the simultaneous delivery of multiple gRNAs into single cells, either as an essential precondition, to increase responsive cell populations or to enhance phenotypic outcomes. Despite these requirements, methods allowing the efficient generation and delivery of multiple gRNA expression units into single cells are still sparse. Here we present STAgR (String assembly gRNA cloning), a single step gRNA multiplexing system, that obtains its advantages by employing the N20 targeting sequences as necessary homologies for Gibson assembly. We show that STAgR allows reliable and cost-effective generation of vectors with high numbers of gRNAs enabling multiplexed CRISPR approaches. Moreover, STAgR is easily customizable, as vector backbones as well as gRNA structures, numbers and promoters can be freely chosen and combined. Finally, we demonstrate STAgR's widespread functionality, its efficiency in multi-targeting approaches, using it for both, genome and transcriptome editing, as well as applying it in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:While CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing has transformed yeast research, current plasmids and cassettes for Cas9 and guide-RNA expression are species specific. CRISPR tools that function in multiple yeast species could contribute to the intensifying research on non-conventional yeasts. A plasmid carrying a pangenomic origin of replication and two constitutive expression cassettes for Cas9 and ribozyme-flanked gRNAs was constructed. Its functionality was tested by analyzing inactivation of the ADE2 gene in four yeast species. In two Kluyveromyces species, near-perfect targeting (?96%) and homologous repair (HR) were observed in at least 24% of transformants. In two Ogataea species, Ade- mutants were not observed directly after transformation, but prolonged incubation of transformed cells resulted in targeting efficiencies of 9% to 63% mediated by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). In an Ogataea parapolymorpha ku80 mutant, deletion of OpADE2 mediated by HR was achieved, albeit at low efficiencies (<1%). Furthermore the expression of a dual polycistronic gRNA array enabled simultaneous interruption of OpADE2 and OpYNR1 demonstrating flexibility of ribozyme-flanked gRNA design for multiplexing. While prevalence of NHEJ prevented HR-mediated editing in Ogataea, such targeted editing was possible in Kluyveromyces. This broad-host-range CRISPR/gRNA system may contribute to exploration of Cas9-mediated genome editing in other Saccharomycotina yeasts.
Project description:Targeting the coding genome to introduce nucleotide deletions/insertions via the CRISPR/Cas9 technology has become a standard procedure. It has quickly spawned a multitude of methods such as prime editing, APEX proximity labeling, or homology directed repair, for which supporting bioinformatics tools are, however, lagging behind. New CRISPR/Cas9 applications often require specific gRNA design functionality, and a generic tool is critically missing. Here, we introduce multicrispr, an R/bioconductor tool, intended to design individual gRNAs and complex gRNA libraries. The package is easy to use; detects, scores, and filters gRNAs on both efficiency and specificity; visualizes and aggregates results per target or CRISPR/Cas9 sequence; and finally returns both genomic ranges and sequences of gRNAs. To be generic, multicrispr defines and implements a genomic arithmetic framework as a basis for facile adaptation to techniques recently introduced such as prime editing or yet to arise. Its performance and design concepts such as target set-specific filtering render multicrispr a tool of choice when dealing with screening-like approaches.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system provides a novel and promising tool for editing the HIV-1 proviral genome. We designed RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas9 targeting the HIV-1 regulatory genes tat and rev with guide RNAs (gRNA) selected from each gene based on CRISPR specificity and sequence conservation across six major HIV-1 subtypes. Each gRNA was cloned into lentiCRISPRv2 before co-transfection to create a lentiviral vector and transduction into target cells. CRISPR/Cas9 transduction into 293?T and HeLa cells stably expressing Tat and Rev proteins successfully abolished the expression of each protein relative to that in non-transduced and gRNA-absent vector-transduced cells. Tat functional assays showed significantly reduced HIV-1 promoter-driven luciferase expression after tat-CRISPR transduction, while Rev functional assays revealed abolished gp120 expression after rev-CRISPR transduction. The target gene was mutated at the Cas9 cleavage site with high frequency and various indel mutations. Conversely, no mutations were detected at off-target sites and Cas9 expression had no effect on cell viability. CRISPR/Cas9 was further tested in persistently and latently HIV-1-infected T-cell lines, in which p24 levels were significantly suppressed even after cytokine reactivation, and multiplexing all six gRNAs further increased efficiency. Thus, the CRISPR/Cas9 system targeting HIV-1 regulatory genes may serve as a favorable means to achieve functional cures.
Project description:As a powerful tool for fast and precise genome editing, the CRISPR/Cas9 system has been applied in filamentous fungi to improve the efficiency of genome alteration. However, the method of delivering guide RNA (gRNA) remains a bottleneck in performing CRISPR mutagenesis in Aspergillus species. Here we report a gRNA transcription driven by endogenous tRNA promoters which include a tRNA gene plus 100 base pairs of upstream sequence. Co-transformation of a cas9-expressing plasmid with a linear DNA coding for gRNA demonstrated that 36 of the 37 tRNA promoters tested were able to generate the intended mutation in A. niger. When gRNA and cas9 were expressed in a single extra-chromosomal plasmid, the efficiency of gene mutation was as high as 97%. Co-transformation with DNA template for homologous recombination, the CRISPR/Cas9 system resulted ~42% efficiency of gene replacement in a strain with a functioning non-homologous end joining machinery (kusA+), and an efficiency of >90% gene replacement in a kusA- background. Our results demonstrate that tRNA promoter-mediated gRNA expressions are reliable and efficient in genome editing in A. niger.