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- Nature Communications
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Abstract CRISPR/Cas systems have been widely used for genome engineering in many plant species, while their potentials have remained largely untapped in fruit crops, particularly in pear, due to the high levels of genomic heterozygosity and difficulties in tissue culture and stable transformation. To date, only few reports on application of CRISPR/Cas9 system in pear have been documented with a very low editing efficiency. Here, we report a highly efficient CRISPR toolbox for loss-of-function and gain-of-function research in pear. We compared four different CRISPR/Cas9 expression systems for loss-of-function analysis and identified a potent system that showed nearly 100% editing efficiency for multi-site mutagenesis. To expand targeting scope, we further tested different CRISPR/Cas12a and Cas12b systems in pear for the first time, albeit with low editing efficiency. In addition, we established a CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) system for multiplexed gene activation in pear calli for gain-of-function analysis. Furthermore, we successfully engineered the anthocyanin and lignin biosynthesis pathways using both CRISPR/Cas9 and CRISPRa systems in pear calli. Taken together, we build a highly efficient CRISPR toolbox for genome editing and gene regulation, paving the way for functional genomics studies as well as molecular breeding in pear.more » « less
Cas12a (formerly known as Cpf1), the class II type V CRISPR nuclease, has been widely used for genome editing in mammalian cells and plants due to its distinct characteristics from Cas9. Despite being one of the most robust Cas12a nucleases, LbCas12a in general is less efficient than SpCas9 for genome editing in human cells, animals, and plants.
To improve the editing efficiency of LbCas12a, we conduct saturation mutagenesis in
E. coliand identify 1977 positive point mutations of LbCas12a. We selectively assess the editing efficiency of 56 LbCas12a variants in human cells, identifying an optimal LbCas12a variant (RVQ: G146R/R182V/E795Q) with the most robust editing activity. We further test LbCas12a-RV, LbCas12a-RRV, and LbCas12a-RVQ in plants and find LbCas12a-RV has robust editing activity in rice and tomato protoplasts. Interestingly, LbCas12a-RRV, resulting from the stacking of RV and D156R, displays improved editing efficiency in stably transformed rice and poplar plants, leading to up to 100% editing efficiency in T0plants of both plant species. Moreover, this high-efficiency editing occurs even at the non-canonical TTV PAM sites. Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that LbCas12a-RVQ is a powerful tool for genome editing in human cells while LbCas12a-RRV confers robust genome editing in plants. Our study reveals the tremendous potential of these LbCas12a variants for advancing precision genome editing applications across a wide range of organisms.
Canonical CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique has profoundly impacted the fields of plant biology, biotechnology, and crop improvement. Since non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) is usually considered to generate random indels, its high efficiency mutation is generally not pertinent to precise editing. Homology-directed repair (HDR) can mediate precise editing with supplied donor DNA, but it suffers from extreme low efficiency in higher plants. Therefore, precision editing in plants will be facilitated by the ability to predict NHEJ repair outcome and to improve HDR efficiency. Here, we report that NHEJ-mediated single nucleotide insertion at different rice genes is predictable based on DNA sequences at the target loci. Three mutation prediction tools (inDelphi, FORECasT, and SPROUT) have been validated in the rice plant system. We also evaluated the chimeric guide RNA (cgRNA) and Cas9-Retron precISe Parallel Editing via homologY (CRISPEY) strategies to facilitate donor template supply for improving HDR efficiency in Nicotiana benthamiana and rice. However, neither cgRNA nor CRISPEY improved plant HDR editing efficiency in this study. Interestingly, our data indicate that tethering of 200–250 nucleotides long sequence to either 5′ or 3′ ends of guide RNA did not significantly affect Cas9 cleavage activity.more » « less
CRISPR-Cas12a is an RNA-guided, programmable genome editing enzyme found within bacterial adaptive immune pathways. Unlike CRISPR-Cas9, Cas12a uses only a single catalytic site to both cleave target double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) (cis-activity) and indiscriminately degrade single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (trans-activity). To investigate how the relative potency of cis- versus trans-DNase activity affects Cas12a-mediated genome editing, we first used structure-guided engineering to generate variants of Lachnospiraceae bacterium Cas12a that selectively disrupt trans-activity. The resulting engineered mutant with the biggest differential between cis- and trans-DNase activity in vitro showed minimal genome editing activity in human cells, motivating a second set of experiments using directed evolution to generate additional mutants with robust genome editing activity. Notably, these engineered and evolved mutants had enhanced ability to induce homology-directed repair (HDR) editing by 2–18-fold compared to wild-type Cas12a when using HDR donors containing mismatches with crRNA at the PAM-distal region. Finally, a site-specific reversion mutation produced improved Cas12a (iCas12a) variants with superior genome editing efficiency at genomic sites that are difficult to edit using wild-type Cas12a. This strategy establishes a pipeline for creating improved genome editing tools by combining structural insights with randomization and selection. The available structures of other CRISPR-Cas enzymes will enable this strategy to be applied to improve the efficacy of other genome-editing proteins.
ABSTRACT Anti-CRISPR (Acr) loci/operons encode Acr proteins and Acr-associated (Aca) proteins. Forty-five Acr families have been experimentally characterized inhibiting seven subtypes of CRISPR-Cas systems. We have developed a bioinformatics pipeline to identify genomic loci containing Acr homologs and/or Aca homologs by combining three computational approaches: homology, guilt-by-association, and self-targeting spacers. Homology search found thousands of Acr homologs in bacterial and viral genomes, but most are homologous to AcrIIA7 and AcrIIA9. Investigating the gene neighborhood of these Acr homologs revealed that only a small percentage (23.0% in bacteria and 8.2% in viruses) of them have neighboring Aca homologs and thus form Acr-Aca operons. Surprisingly, although a self-targeting spacer is a strong indicator of the presence of Acr genes in a genome, a large percentage of Acr-Aca loci are found in bacterial genomes without self-targeting spacers or even without complete CRISPR-Cas systems. Additionally, for Acr homologs from genomes with self-targeting spacers, homology-based Acr family assignments do not always agree with the self-targeting CRISPR-Cas subtypes. Last, by investigating Acr genomic loci coexisting with self-targeting spacers in the same genomes, five known subtypes (I-C, I-E, I-F, II-A, and II-C) and five new subtypes (I-B, III-A, III-B, IV-A, and V-U4) of Acrs were inferred. Based on these findings, we conclude that the discovery of new anti-CRISPRs should not be restricted to genomes with self-targeting spacers and loci with Acr homologs. The evolutionary arms race of CRISPR-Cas systems and anti-CRISPR systems may have driven the adaptive and rapid gain and loss of these elements in closely related genomes. IMPORTANCE As a naturally occurring adaptive immune system, CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats–CRISPR-associated genes) systems are widely found in bacteria and archaea to defend against viruses. Since 2013, the application of various bacterial CRISPR-Cas systems has become very popular due to their development into targeted and programmable genome engineering tools with the ability to edit almost any genome. As the natural off-switch of CRISPR-Cas systems, anti-CRISPRs have a great potential to serve as regulators of CRISPR-Cas tools and enable safer and more controllable genome editing. This study will help understand the relative usefulness of the three bioinformatics approaches for new Acr discovery, as well as guide the future development of new bioinformatics tools to facilitate anti-CRISPR research. The thousands of Acr homologs and hundreds of new anti-CRISPR loci identified in this study will be a valuable data resource for genome engineers to search for new CRISPR-Cas regulators.more » « less