Improved sgRNA design in bacteria via genome-wide activity profiling.
ABSTRACT: 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 a highly efficient genome engineering tool, yet its off-target effects and sequence-dependent cleavage activity across different sgRNAs remain major concerns for its application. Here, we propose a nicking triggered exponential amplification reaction (NTEXPAR), a fast and sensitive in vitro method, to detect the double strand DNA cleaved by down to 10 pM Cas9 with a linear range of 100 pM to 20 nM. With this newly developed amplification method, Cas9 cleavage activity can be quantified in 40 min and the optimal sgRNA design for specific target sequence can be successfully determined. Using the pre-screened sgRNA, we are able to distinguish single nucleotide mismatch in a gene silencing experiment. This fluorescence based isothermal assay provides a versatile tool for the pre-screening of sgRNAs to achieve highly specific and highly efficient CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is an efficient and versatile tool for genome engineering in many species. However, inducible CRISPR-Cas9 editing systems that regulate Cas9 activity or sgRNA expression often suffer from significant limitations, including reduced editing capacity, off-target effects, or leaky expression. Here, we develop a precisely controlled sgRNA expression cassette that can be combined with widely-used Cre systems, termed CRISPR-Switch (SgRNA With Induction/Termination by Cre Homologous recombination). Switch-ON facilitates controlled, rapid induction of sgRNA activity. In turn, Switch-OFF-mediated termination of editing improves generation of heterozygous genotypes and can limit off-target effects. Furthermore, we design sequential CRISPR-Switch-based editing of two loci in a strictly programmable manner and determined the order of mutagenic events that leads to development of glioblastoma in mice. Thus, CRISPR-Switch substantially increases the versatility of gene editing through precise and rapid switching ON or OFF sgRNA activity, as well as switching OVER to secondary sgRNAs.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas9 has emerged as a versatile genome-engineering tool that relies on a single guide RNA (sgRNA) and the Cas9 enzyme for genome editing. Simple, fast and economical methods to generate sgRNAs have made targeted mutagenesis routine in cultured cells, mice, zebrafish and other model systems. Pre-screening of sgRNAs for target efficacy is desirable both for successful mutagenesis and minimizing wasted animal husbandry on targets with poor activity. Here, we describe an easy, quick and cost-effective fluorescent polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method, CRISPR Somatic Tissue Activity Test (CRISPR-STAT), to determine target-specific efficiency of sgRNA. As a proof of principle, we validated our method using 28 sgRNAs with known and varied levels of germline transmission efficiency in zebrafish by analysis of their somatic activity in injected embryos. Our data revealed a strong positive correlation between the fluorescent PCR profiles of the injected embryos and the germline transmission efficiency. Furthermore, the assay was sensitive enough to evaluate multiplex gene targeting. This method is easy to implement by laboratories with access to a capillary sequencer. Although we validated the method using CRISPR/Cas9 and zebrafish, it can be applied to other model systems and other genome targeting nucleases.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9-based genetic screens are a powerful new tool in biology. By simply altering the sequence of the single-guide RNA (sgRNA), one can reprogram Cas9 to target different sites in the genome with relative ease, but the on-target activity and off-target effects of individual sgRNAs can vary widely. Here, we use recently devised sgRNA design rules to create human and mouse genome-wide libraries, perform positive and negative selection screens and observe that the use of these rules produced improved results. Additionally, we profile the off-target activity of thousands of sgRNAs and develop a metric to predict off-target sites. We incorporate these findings from large-scale, empirical data to improve our computational design rules and create optimized sgRNA libraries that maximize on-target activity and minimize off-target effects to enable more effective and efficient genetic screens and genome engineering.
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: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: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-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.
Project description:Cas9 nucleases can be programmed with single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) to mediate gene editing. High CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knockout efficiencies are essential for genetic screens and critically depend on the properties of the sgRNAs used. The specificity of an sgRNA is defined by its targeting sequence. Here, we discovered that two short sequence motifs at the 3' end of the targeting sequence are almost exclusively present in inefficient sgRNAs of published sgRNA-activity datasets. By specific knock-in of sgRNA target sequences with or without these motifs and quantitative measurement of knockout efficiency, we show that the presence of these motifs in sgRNAs per se results in a 10-fold reduction of gene knockout frequencies. Mechanistically, the cause of the low efficiency differs between the two motifs. These sequence motifs are relevant for future sgRNA design approaches and studies of Cas9-DNA interactions.
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.