Highly multiplexed genome engineering using CRISPR/Cas9 gRNA arrays.
ABSTRACT: 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:In CRISPR/Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/CRISPR-associated protein 9)-mediated genome editing in plants, Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) protein and the required guide RNA (gRNA) are, in most cases, expressed from a stably integrated transgene. Generally, SpCas9 protein is expressed from an RNA polymerase (pol) II promoter, while gRNA is expressed from a pol III promoter. However, pol III promoters have not been much characterized other than in model plants, making it difficult to select appropriate promoters for specific applications, while pol II transcripts have to be processed to generate functional gRNAs. Recently, successful processing of a pol II transcript into functional gRNAs using ribozyme or Csy4-RNA cleavage systems has been demonstrated. Here, we show that functional gRNAs can be efficiently processed using SpCas9 protein and plant endogenous RNA cleavage systems without the need for a specific RNA processing system. In our system, SpCas9 RNA and gRNA are both transcribed as a single RNA using a single pol II promoter; translated SpCas9 protein can be bound to this RNA and, finally, extra RNA sequences are trimmed by plant RNA processing systems to form a functional SpCas9-gRNA complex. The efficiency of targeted mutagenesis using our novel SpCas9-gRNA fused system was comparable with that of the SpCas9-gRNA system with ribozyme sequence, achieving rates of up to 100% in rice. Our results could be useful in developing stable SpCas9-gRNA expression systems and in RNA virus vector-mediated genome editing systems in plants.
Project description:Candida tropicalis, a nonmodel diploid microbe, has been applied in industry as a chassis cell. Metabolic engineering of C. tropicalis is challenging due to a lack of gene editing and regulation tools. Here, we report a tRNA:guide RNA (gRNA) platform for boosting gene editing and silencing efficiency in C. tropicalis. As the endogenous tRNA-processing system enables autocleavage for producing a large number of mature gRNAs, a tRNA<sup>Gly</sup> sequence from the genome of C. tropicalis ATCC 20336 was selected for constructing the tRNA:gRNA platform. In the CRISPR-Cas9 system, the tRNA:gRNA platform proved to be efficient in single-gene and multi-gene editing. Furthermore, based on the tRNA:gRNA platform, a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system was developed to construct an efficient dCas9-mediated gene expression regulation system for C. tropicalis. The CRISPRi system was employed to regulate the expression of the exogenous gene <i>GFP3</i> (green fluorescent protein) and the endogenous gene <i>ADE2</i> (phosphoribosylaminoimidazole carboxylase). Different regions of <i>GFP3</i> and <i>ADE2</i> were targeted with the gRNAs processed by the tRNA<sup>Gly</sup>, and the transcription levels of <i>GFP3</i> and <i>ADE2</i> were successfully downregulated to 23.9% ± 4.1% and 38.0% ± 7.4%, respectively. The effects of the target regions on gene regulation were also investigated. Additionally, the regulation system was applied to silence <i>ERG9</i> (squalene synthase) to enhance β-carotene biosynthesis in a metabolically modified C. tropicalis strain. The results suggest that the endogenous tRNA<sup>Gly</sup> and the CRISPRi system have great potential for metabolic engineering of C. tropicalis. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> In the nonmodel yeast Candida tropicalis, a lack of available RNA polymerase type III (Pol III) promoters hindered the development of guide RNA (gRNA) expression platforms for the establishment of CRISPR-Cas-mediated genome editing and silencing strategies. Here, a tRNA:gRNA platform was constructed. We show that this platform allows efficient and precise expression and processing of different gRNAs from a single polycistronic gene capable of mediating multi-gene editing in combination with CRISPR-Cas9. Furthermore, in combination with dCas9, the tRNA:gRNA platform was efficiently used for silencing of exogenous and endogenous genes, representing the first CRISPR interference tool (CRISPRi) in C. tropicalis. Importantly, the established CRISPRi-tRNA:gRNA tool was also used for metabolic engineering by regulating β-carotene biosynthesis in C. tropicalis. The results suggest that the tRNA:gRNA platform and the CRISPRi system will further advance the application of the CRISPR-Cas-based editing and CRISPRi systems for metabolic engineering in C. tropicalis.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a novel genome editing technology which has been successfully used to inhibit HBV replication. Here, we described a novel gRNA-microRNA (miRNA)-gRNA ternary cassette driven by a single U6 promoter. With an anti-HBV pri-miR31 mimic integrated between two HBV-specific gRNAs, both gRNAs could be separated from the long transcript of gRNA-miR-HBV-gRNA ternary cassette through Drosha/DGCR8 processing. The results showed that the gRNA-miR-HBV-gRNA ternary cassette could efficiently express two gRNAs and miR-HBV. The optimal length of pri-miRNA flanking sequence in our ternary cassette was determined to be 38 base pairs (bp). Besides, HBV-specific gRNAs and miR-HBV in gRNA-miR-HBV-gRNA ternary cassette could exert a synergistic effect in inhibiting HBV replication and destroying HBV genome in vitro and in vivo. Most importantly, together with RNA interference (RNAi) approach, the HBV-specific gRNAs showed the potent activity on the destruction of HBV covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). Since HBV cccDNA is an obstacle for the elimination of chronic HBV infection, the gRNA-miR-HBV-gRNA ternary cassette may be a potential tool for the clearance of HBV cccDNA.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful tool for genome engineering, but its efficiency largely depends on guide RNA (gRNA). There are multiple methods available to evaluate the efficiency of gRNAs, including the T7E1 assay, surveyor nuclease assay, deep sequencing, and surrogate reporter systems. In the present study, we developed a cleavage-based surrogate that we have named the LacI-reporter to evaluate gRNA cleavage efficiency. The LacI repressor, under the control of the EF-1α promoter, represses luciferase or EGFP reporter expression by binding to the lac operator. Upon CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage at a target site located between the EF-1α promoter and the lacI gene, repressor expression is disrupted, thereby triggering luciferase or EGFP expression. Using this system, we can quantitate gRNA cleavage efficiency by assessing luciferase activity or EGFP expression. We found a strong positive correlation between the cleavage efficiency of gRNAs measured using this reporter and mutation frequency, measured using surveyor and deep sequencing. The genome-editing efficiency of gRNAs was validated in human liver organoids. Our LacI-reporter system provides a useful tool to select efficient gRNAs for genome editing.
Project description:The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 has made genome editing possible in virtually any organism, including those not previously amenable to genetic manipulations. Here, we present an optimization of CRISPR/Cas9 for application to early avian embryos with improved efficiency via a three-fold strategy. First, we employed Cas9 protein flanked with two nuclear localization signal sequences for improved nuclear localization. Second, we used a modified guide RNA (gRNA) scaffold that obviates premature termination of transcription and unstable Cas9-gRNA interactions. Third, we used a chick-specific U6 promoter that yields 4-fold higher gRNA expression than the previously utilized human U6. For rapid screening of gRNAs for in vivo applications, we also generated a chicken fibroblast cell line that constitutively expresses Cas9. As proof of principle, we performed electroporation-based loss-of-function studies in the early chick embryo to knock out Pax7 and Sox10, key transcription factors with known functions in neural crest development. The results show that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deletion causes loss of their respective proteins and transcripts, as well as predicted downstream targets. Taken together, the results reveal the utility of this optimized CRISPR/Cas9 method for targeted gene knockout in chicken embryos in a manner that is reproducible, robust and specific.
Project description: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:The genomes of more than 50 organisms have now been manipulated due to rapid advancement of gene editing technology. One way to perform gene editing in the mouse using the CRISPR/CAS system, guide RNA (gRNA) and CAS9 mRNA transcribed in vitro are microinjected into fertilized eggs that are then allowed to develop to term. As a rule, gRNAs are tested first in tissue culture cells and the one with the highest locus-specific cleavage activity is chosen for microinjection. For cell transfections, gRNAs are typically expressed using the human U6 promoter (hU6). However, gRNAs for microinjection into zygotes are obtained by in vitro transcription from a T7 bacteriophage promoter in a separate plasmid vector. Here, we describe the design and construction of a combined U6T7 hybrid promoter from which the same gRNA sequence can be expressed. An expression vector containing such a hybrid promoter can now be used to generate gRNA for testing in mammalian cells as well as for microinjection purposes. The gRNAs expressed and transcribed from this vector are found to be functional in cells as well as in mice.
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:Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/Cas9 (CRISPR/Cas9) system has emerged in recent years as a highly efficient RNA-guided gene manipulation platform. Simultaneous editing or transcriptional activation/suppression of different genes becomes feasible with the co-delivery of multiple guide RNAs (gRNAs). Here, we report that multiple gRNAs linked with self-cleaving ribozymes and/or tRNA could be simultaneously expressed from a single U6 promoter to exert genome editing of dystrophin and myosin binding protein C3 in human and mouse cells. Moreover, this strategy allows the expression of multiple gRNAs for synergistic transcription activation of follistatin when used with catalytically inactive dCas9-VP64 or dCas9-p300core fusions. Finally, the gRNAs linked by the self-cleaving ribozymes and tRNA could be expressed from RNA polymerase type II (pol II) promoters such as generic CMV and muscle/heart-specific MHCK7. This is particularly useful for in vivo applications when the packaging capacity of recombinant adeno-associated virus is limited while tissue-specific delivery of gRNAs and Cas9 is desired. Taken together, this study provides a novel strategy to enable tissue-specific expression of more than one gRNAs for multiplex gene editing from a single pol II promoter.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is quickly revolutionizing the way we approach gene therapy. CRISPR-Cas9 is a complexed, two-component system using a short guide RNA (gRNA) sequence to direct the Cas9 endonuclease to the target site. Modifying the gRNA independent of the Cas9 protein confers ease and flexibility to improve the CRISPR-Cas9 system as a genome-editing tool. gRNAs have been engineered to improve the CRISPR system's overall stability, specificity, safety, and versatility. gRNAs have been modified to increase their stability to guard against nuclease degradation, thereby enhancing their efficiency. Additionally, guide specificity has been improved by limiting off-target editing. Synthetic gRNA has been shown to ameliorate inflammatory signaling caused by the CRISPR system, thereby limiting immunogenicity and toxicity in edited mammalian cells. Furthermore, through conjugation with exogenous donor DNA, engineered gRNAs have been shown to improve homology-directed repair (HDR) efficiency by ensuring donor proximity to the edited site. Lastly, synthetic gRNAs attached to fluorescent labels have been developed to enable highly specific nuclear staining and imaging, enabling mechanistic studies of chromosomal dynamics and genomic mapping. Continued work on chemical modification and optimization of synthetic gRNAs will undoubtedly lead to clinical and therapeutic benefits and, ultimately, routinely performed CRISPR-based therapies.