Recombinant Pseudorabies Virus (PRV) Expressing Firefly Luciferase Effectively Screened for CRISPR/Cas9 Single Guide RNAs and Antiviral Compounds.
ABSTRACT: A Pseudorabies virus (PRV) variant has emerged in China since 2011 that is not protected by commercial vaccines, and has not been well studied. The PRV genome is large and difficult to manipulate, but it is feasible to use clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 technology. However, identification of single guide RNA (sgRNA) through screening is critical to the CRISPR/Cas9 system, and is traditionally time and labor intensive, and not suitable for rapid and high throughput screening of effective PRV sgRNAs. In this study, we developed a recombinant PRV strain expressing firefly luciferase and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) as a reporter virus for PRV-specific sgRNA screens and rapid evaluation of antiviral compounds. Luciferase activity was apparent as soon as 4 h after infection and was stably expressed through 10 passages. In a proof of the principle screen, we were able to identify several PRV specific sgRNAs and confirmed that they inhibited PRV replication using traditional methods. Using the reporter virus, we also identified PRV variants lacking US3, US2, and US9 gene function, and showed anti-PRV activity for chloroquine. Our results suggest that the reporter PRV strain will be a useful tool for basic virology studies, and for developing PRV control and prevention measures.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system has been developed to mediate genome editing and become a powerful tool for biological research. Employing the CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system for genome editing and manipulation has accelerated research and expanded researchers' ability to generate genetic models. However, the method evaluating the efficiency of sgRNAs is lacking in plants. Based on the nucleotide compositions and secondary structures of sgRNAs which have been experimentally validated in plants, we instituted criteria to design efficient sgRNAs. To facilitate the assembly of multiple sgRNA cassettes, we also developed a new strategy to rapidly construct CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system for multiplex editing in plants. In theory, up to ten single guide RNA (sgRNA) cassettes can be simultaneously assembled into the final binary vectors. As a proof of concept, 21 sgRNAs complying with the criteria were designed and the corresponding Cas9/sgRNAs expression vectors were constructed. Sequencing analysis of transgenic rice plants suggested that 82% of the desired target sites were edited with deletion, insertion, substitution, and inversion, displaying high editing efficiency. This work provides a convenient approach to select efficient sgRNAs for target editing.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas9 is a promising tool in prokaryotic genome engineering, but its success is limited by the widely varying on-target activity of single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). Based on the association of CRISPR/Cas9-induced DNA cleavage with cellular lethality, we systematically profiled sgRNA activity by co-expressing a genome-scale library (?70 000 sgRNAs) with Cas9 or its specificity-improved mutant in Escherichia coli. Based on this large-scale dataset, we constructed a comprehensive and high-density sgRNA activity map, which enables selecting highly active sgRNAs for any locus across the genome in this model organism. We also identified 'resistant' genomic loci with respect to CRISPR/Cas9 activity, notwithstanding the highly accessible DNA in bacterial cells. Moreover, we found that previous sgRNA activity prediction models that were trained on mammalian cell datasets were inadequate when coping with our results, highlighting the key limitations and biases of previous models. We hence developed an integrated algorithm to accurately predict highly effective sgRNAs, aiming to facilitate CRISPR/Cas9-based genome engineering, screenings and antimicrobials design in bacteria. We also isolated the important sgRNA features that contribute to DNA cleavage and characterized their key differences among wild type Cas9 and its mutant, shedding light on the biophysical mechanisms of the CRISPR/Cas9 system.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is widely applied for genome engineering in various organisms. The assembly of single guide RNA (sgRNA) with the Cas9 protein may limit the Cas9/sgRNA effector complex function. We developed a FRET-based assay for detection of CRISPR-Cas9 complex binding to its targets and used this assay to investigate the kinetics of Cas9 assembly with a set of structurally distinct sgRNAs. We find that Cas9 and isolated sgRNAs form the effector complex efficiently and rapidly. Yet, the assembly process is sensitive to the presence of moderate concentrations of non-specific RNA competitors, which considerably delay the Cas9/sgRNA complex formation, while not significantly affecting already formed complexes. This observation suggests that the rate of sgRNA loading into Cas9 in cells can be determined by competition between sgRNA and intracellular RNA molecules for the binding to Cas9. Non-specific RNAs exerted particularly large inhibitory effects on formation of Cas9 complexes with sgRNAs bearing shortened 3'-terminal segments. This result implies that the 3'-terminal segment confers sgRNA the ability to withstand competition from non-specific RNA and at least in part may explain the fact that use of sgRNAs truncated for the 3'-terminal stem loops leads to reduced activity during genomic editing.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 technology provides a powerful system for genome engineering. However, variable activity across different single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) remains a significant limitation. We analyzed the molecular features that influence sgRNA stability, activity and loading into Cas9 in vivo. We observed that guanine enrichment and adenine depletion increased sgRNA stability and activity, whereas differential sgRNA loading, nucleosome positioning and Cas9 off-target binding were not major determinants. We also identified sgRNAs truncated by one or two nucleotides and containing 5' mismatches as efficient alternatives to canonical sgRNAs. On the basis of these results, we created a predictive sgRNA-scoring algorithm, CRISPRscan, that effectively captures the sequence features affecting the activity of CRISPR-Cas9 in vivo. Finally, we show that targeting Cas9 to the germ line using a Cas9-nanos 3' UTR led to the generation of maternal-zygotic mutants, as well as increased viability and decreased somatic mutations. These results identify determinants that influence Cas9 activity and provide a framework for the design of highly efficient sgRNAs for genome targeting in vivo.
Project description:Kiwifruit is an important fruit crop; however, technologies for its functional genomic and molecular improvement are limited. The clustered regulatory interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein (Cas) system has been successfully applied to genetic improvement in many crops, but its editing capability is variable depending on the different combinations of the synthetic guide RNA (sgRNA) and Cas9 protein expression devices. Optimizing conditions for its use within a particular species is therefore needed to achieve highly efficient genome editing. In this study, we developed a new cloning strategy for generating paired-sgRNA/Cas9 vectors containing four sgRNAs targeting the kiwifruit phytoene desaturase gene (AcPDS). Comparing to the previous method of paired-sgRNA cloning, our strategy only requires the synthesis of two gRNA-containing primers which largely reduces the cost. We further compared efficiencies of paired-sgRNA/Cas9 vectors containing different sgRNA expression devices, including both the polycistronic tRNA-sgRNA cassette (PTG) and the traditional CRISPR expression cassette. We found the mutagenesis frequency of the PTG/Cas9 system was 10-fold higher than that of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, coinciding with the relative expressions of sgRNAs in two different expression cassettes. In particular, we identified large chromosomal fragment deletions induced by the paired-sgRNAs of the PTG/Cas9 system. Finally, as expected, we found both systems can successfully induce the albino phenotype of kiwifruit plantlets regenerated from the G418-resistance callus lines. We conclude that the PTG/Cas9 system is a more powerful system than the traditional CRISPR/Cas9 system for kiwifruit genome editing, which provides valuable clues for optimizing CRISPR/Cas9 editing system in other plants.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system has emerged as an important tool for various genome engineering applications. A current obstacle to high throughput applications of CRISPR/Cas9 is the imprecise prediction of highly active single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). We previously implemented the CRISPR/Cas9 system to induce tissue-specific mutations in the tunicate Ciona. In the present study, we designed and tested 83 single guide RNA (sgRNA) vectors targeting 23 genes expressed in the cardiopharyngeal progenitors and surrounding tissues of Ciona embryo. Using high-throughput sequencing of mutagenized alleles, we identified guide sequences that correlate with sgRNA mutagenesis activity and used this information for the rational design of all possible sgRNAs targeting the Ciona transcriptome. We also describe a one-step cloning-free protocol for the assembly of sgRNA expression cassettes. These cassettes can be directly electroporated as unpurified PCR products into Ciona embryos for sgRNA expression in vivo, resulting in high frequency of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis in somatic cells of electroporated embryos. We found a strong correlation between the frequency of an Ebf loss-of-function phenotype and the mutagenesis efficacies of individual Ebf-targeting sgRNAs tested using this method. We anticipate that our approach can be scaled up to systematically design and deliver highly efficient sgRNAs for the tissue-specific investigation of gene functions in Ciona.
Project description:Several groups have used genome-wide libraries of lentiviruses encoding small guide RNAs (sgRNAs) for genetic screens. In most cases, sgRNA expression cassettes are integrated into cells by using lentiviruses, and target genes are statistically estimated by the readout of sgRNA sequences after targeted sequencing. We present a new virus-free method for human gene knockout screens using a genome-wide library of CRISPR/Cas9 sgRNAs based on plasmids and target gene identification via whole-genome sequencing (WGS) confirmation of authentic mutations rather than statistical estimation through targeted amplicon sequencing. We used 30,840 pairs of individually synthesized oligonucleotides to construct the genome-scale sgRNA library, collectively targeting 10,280 human genes (i.e. three sgRNAs per gene). These plasmid libraries were co-transfected with a Cas9-expression plasmid into human cells, which were then treated with cytotoxic drugs or viruses. Only cells lacking key factors essential for cytotoxic drug metabolism or viral infection were able to survive. Genomic DNA isolated from cells that survived these challenges was subjected to WGS to directly identify CRISPR/Cas9-mediated causal mutations essential for cell survival. With this approach, we were able to identify known and novel genes essential for viral infection in human cells. We propose that genome-wide sgRNA screens based on plasmids coupled with WGS are powerful tools for forward genetics studies and drug target discovery.
Project description:The CRISPR RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease gene-targeting system has been successfully used for genome editing in a variety of organisms. Here, we report the use of dual sgRNA-guided Cas9 nuclease to generate knockout mutants of protein coding genes, noncoding genes, and repetitive sequences in C. elegans. Co-injection of C. elegans with dual sgRNAs results in the removal of the interval between two sgRNAs and the loss-of-function phenotype of targeted genes. We sought to determine how large an interval can be eliminated and found that at least a 24 kb chromosome segment can be deleted using this dual sgRNA/Cas9 strategy. The deletion of large chromosome segments facilitates mutant screening by PCR and agarose electrophoresis. Thus, the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in combination with dual sgRNAs provides a powerful platform with which to easily generate gene knockout mutants in C. elegans. Our data also suggest that encoding multiple sgRNA sequences into a single CRISPR array to simultaneously edit several sites within the genome may cause the off-target deletion of chromosome sequences.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful genome editing technology in which a single guide RNA (sgRNA) confers target site specificity to achieve Cas9-mediated genome editing. Numerous sgRNA design tools have been developed based on reference genomes for humans and model organisms. However, existing resources are not optimal as genetic mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the targeting region affect the efficiency of CRISPR-based approaches by interfering with guide-target complementarity. To facilitate identification of sgRNAs (1) in non-reference genomes, (2) across varying genetic backgrounds, or (3) for specific targeting of SNP-containing alleles, for example, disease relevant mutations, we developed a web tool, SNP-CRISPR (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/snp_crispr/). SNP-CRISPR can be used to design sgRNAs based on public variant data sets or user-identified variants. In addition, the tool computes efficiency and specificity scores for sgRNA designs targeting both the variant and the reference. Moreover, SNP-CRISPR provides the option to upload multiple SNPs and target single or multiple nearby base changes simultaneously with a single sgRNA design. Given these capabilities, SNP-CRISPR has a wide range of potential research applications in model systems and for design of sgRNAs for disease-associated variant correction.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing is a next-generation strategy for genetic modifications. Typically, sgRNA is constitutively expressed relying on RNA polymerase III promoters. Polymerase II promoters initiate transcription in a flexible manner, but sgRNAs generated by RNA polymerase II promoter lost their nuclease activity. To express sgRNAs in a tissue-specific fashion and endow CRISPR with more versatile function, a novel system was established in a polycistron, where miRNAs (or shRNAs) and sgRNAs alternately emerged and co-expressed under the control of a single polymerase II promoter. Effective expression and further processing of functional miRNAs and sgRNAs were achieved. The redundant nucleotides adjacent to sgRNA were degraded, and 5'- cap structure was responsible for the compromised nuclease capacity of sgRNA: Cas9 complex. Furthermore, this strategy fulfilled conducting multiplex genome editing, as well as executing neural- specific genome editing and enhancing the proportion of homologous recombination via inhibiting NHEJ pathway by shRNA. In summary, we designed a new construction for efficient expression of sgRNAs with miRNAs (shRNAs) by virtue of RNA polymerase II promoters, which will spur the development of safer, more controllable/regulable and powerful CRISPR/Cas9 system-mediated genome editing in a wide variety of further biomedical applications.