Development and characterization of a CRISPR/Cas9n-based multiplex genome editing system for Bacillus subtilis.
ABSTRACT: Background:Metabolic engineering has expanded from a focus on designs requiring a small number of genetic modifications to increasingly complex designs driven by advances in multiplex genome editing technologies. However, simultaneously modulating multiple genes on the chromosome remains challenging in Bacillus subtilis. Thus, developing an efficient and convenient method for B. subtilis multiplex genome editing is imperative. Results:Here, we developed a CRISPR/Cas9n-based multiplex genome editing system for iterative genome editing in B. subtilis. This system enabled us to introduce various types of genomic modifications with more satisfying efficiency than using CRISPR/Cas9, especially in multiplex gene editing. Our system achieved at least 80% efficiency for 1-8 kb gene deletions, at least 90% efficiency for 1-2 kb gene insertions, near 100% efficiency for site-directed mutagenesis, 23.6% efficiency for large DNA fragment deletion and near 50% efficiency for three simultaneous point mutations. The efficiency for multiplex gene editing was further improved by regulating the nick repair mechanism mediated by ligD gene, which finally led to roughly 65% efficiency for introducing three point mutations on the chromosome. To demonstrate its potential, we applied our system to simultaneously fine-tune three genes in the riboflavin operon and significantly improved the production of riboflavin in a single cycle. Conclusions:We present not only the iterative CRISPR/Cas9n system for B. subtilis but also the highest efficiency for simultaneous modulation of multiple genes on the chromosome in B. subtilis reported to date. We anticipate this CRISPR/Cas9n mediated system to greatly enhance the optimization of diverse biological systems via metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.