CRISPR/dual-FRET molecular beacon for sensitive live-cell imaging of non-repetitive genomic loci.
ABSTRACT: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based genomic imaging systems predominantly rely on fluorescent protein reporters, which lack the optical properties essential for sensitive dynamic imaging. Here, we modified the CRISPR single-guide RNA (sgRNA) to carry two distinct molecular beacons (MBs) that can undergo fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and demonstrated that the resulting system, CRISPR/dual-FRET MB, enables dynamic imaging of non-repetitive genomic loci with only three unique sgRNAs.
Project description:The clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) gene-editing system has been repurposed for live-cell genomic imaging, but existing approaches rely on fluorescent protein reporters, making sensitive and continuous imaging difficult. Here, we present a fluorophore-based live-cell genomic imaging system that consists of a nuclease-deactivated mutant of the Cas9 protein (dCas9), a molecular beacon (MB), and an engineered single-guide RNA (sgRNA) harboring a unique MB target sequence (sgRNA-MTS), termed CRISPR/MB. Specifically, dCas9 and sgRNA-MTS are first co-expressed to target a specific locus in cells, followed by delivery of MBs that can then hybridize to MTS to illuminate the target locus. We demonstrated the feasibility of this approach for quantifying genomic loci, for monitoring chromatin dynamics, and for dual-color imaging when using two orthogonal MB/MTS pairs. With flexibility in selecting different combinations of fluorophore/quencher pairs and MB/MTS sequences, our CRISPR/MB hybrid system could be a promising platform for investigating chromatin activities.
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:Pooled-library CRISPR screening provides a powerful means to discover genetic factors involved in cellular processes in a high-throughput manner. However, the phenotypes accessible to pooled-library screening are limited. Complex phenotypes, such as cellular morphology and subcellular molecular organization, as well as their dynamics, require imaging-based readout and are currently beyond the reach of pooled-library CRISPR screening. Here we report an all imaging-based pooled-library CRISPR screening approach that combines high-content phenotype imaging with high-throughput single guide RNA (sgRNA) identification in individual cells. In this approach, sgRNAs are codelivered to cells with corresponding barcodes placed at the 3' untranslated region of a reporter gene using a lentiviral delivery system with reduced recombination-induced sgRNA-barcode mispairing. Multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization (MERFISH) is used to read out the barcodes and hence identify the sgRNAs with high accuracy. We used this approach to screen 162 sgRNAs targeting 54 RNA-binding proteins for their effects on RNA localization to nuclear compartments and uncovered previously unknown regulatory factors for nuclear RNA localization. Notably, our screen revealed both positive and negative regulators for the nuclear speckle localization of a long noncoding RNA, MALAT1, suggesting a dynamic regulation of lncRNA localization in subcellular compartments.
Project description:AIM: Survivin molecular beacons can be used to detect bladder cancer cells in urine samples non-invasively. The aim of this study is to improve the specificity of detection of bladder cancer cells using survivin dual fluorescence resonance energy transfer molecular beacons (FRET MBs) that have fluorophores forming one donor-acceptor pair. METHODS: Survivin-targeting dual fluorescence resonance energy transfer molecular beacons with unique target sequences were designed, which had no overlap with the other genes in the apoptosis inhibitor protein family. Human bladder cancer cell lines 5637, 253J and T24, as well as the exfoliated cells in the urine of healthy adults and patients with bladder cancer were examined. Images of cells were taken using a laser scanning confocal fluorescence microscope. For assays using dual FRET MBs, the excitation wavelength was 488 nm, and the emission detection wavelengths were 520±20 nm and 560±20 nm, respectively. RESULTS: The human bladder cancer cell lines and exfoliated cells in the urine of patients with bladder cancer incubated with the survivin dual FRET MBs exhibited strong fluorescence signals. In contrast, no fluorescence was detected in the survivin-negative human dermal fibroblasts-adult (HDF-a) cells or exfoliated cells in the urine of healthy adults incubated with the survivin dual FRET MBs. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the survivin dual FRET MBs may be used as a specific and non-invasive method for early detection and follow-up of patients with bladder cancer.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system can be introduced into zebrafish as transgenes. Namely, expression of single-guide RNA (sgRNA) and controlled expression of Cas9 in transgenic zebrafish enables the study of gene functions in specific cell types. This transgenic CRISPR/Cas9 approach would be more useful if multiple sgRNAs could be expressed simultaneously since we could knock-out a gene more efficiently or disrupt multiple genes simultaneously. Here we describe a novel system to express multiple sgRNAs efficiently in zebrafish, that relies on the endogenous tRNA processing machinery. We cloned nine endogenous zebrafish tRNA genes, fused them to sgRNAs, and demonstrated that an active sgRNA can be produced from a precursor transcript containing either of these tRNAs. To show a proof of principle, we constructed transgenic fish expressing Cas9 under the control of the ubiquitin promoter and a single transcript containing three distinct sgRNAs, that targeted the slc45a2 (albino) gene, fused to tRNAs under the control of the U6 promoter. We found that the Tg(ubb:SpCas9,u6c:3xslc45a2-sgRNA) harbored mutations in all of the target sites in the albino gene and showed nearly complete albino phenotypes, which were amenable to imaging experiments. Thus, the tRNA-based multiplex sgRNA expression system should facilitate gene knock-out studies in transgenic zebrafish.
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 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:Analysis of RNA dynamics and localization at the single-molecule level in living cells has been predominantly achieved by engineering target RNAs with large insertions of tandem repeat sequences that are bound by protein-based or oligonucleotide-based fluorescent probes. Thus, individual RNAs are tagged by multiple fluorescent probes, making them detectable by fluorescence microscopy. Since large insertions may affect RNA processes including trafficking and localization, here we present a strategy to visualize single RNA transcripts in living cells using molecular beacons (MBs) - fluorogenic oligonucleotide probes - with minimal target engineering. The MBs are composed of 2'-O-methyl RNAs with a fully phosphorothioate-modified loop domain (2Me/PSLOOP MBs), an architecture that elicits marginal levels of nonspecific signals in cells. We showed that MBs can detect single transcripts containing as few as 8 target repeat sequences with ~90% accuracy. In both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, mRNAs harboring 8 repeats moved faster than those with 32 repeats, suggesting that intracellular activities are less impeded by smaller engineered insertions. We then report the first MB-based imaging of intracellular dynamics and localization of single long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). We envision the proposed minimally-engineered, MB-based technology for live-cell single-molecule RNA imaging could facilitate new discoveries in RNA research.
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.