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A Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience for High-Throughput Reverse Genetic Studies in Arabidopsis Thaliana with CRISPR-Cas9Gene editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9 have created unprecedented opportunities for genetic studies in plants and animals. We designed a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) to train introductory biology students in the concepts and implementation of gene editing technology as well as develop their soft skills in data management and scientific communication. We present two versions of the course that can be implemented with twice- weekly meetings over a five-week period. In the remote-learning version, students perform homology searches, design guide RNAs and primers, and learn the principles of molecular cloning. This version is appropriate when access to laboratory equipment or in-person instruction is limited, such as closures that have occurred in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the in-person version, students design guide RNAs, clone CRISPR-Cas9 constructs, and perform genetic transformation of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The highly parallel nature of the CURE makes it possible to target dozens to hundreds of genes, depending on the number of course sections available. Applying this approach in a sensitized mutant background enables focused reverse genetic screens for genetic suppressors or enhancers. The course can be readily adapted to other organisms or projects that employ gene editing.
Cell cultures are effective supplemental models to study specific biochemical pathways used for environmental adaption in animals. They enable isolation from system influence and facilitate control the extracellular environment. For work focusing on fish species many representative cell lines now exist, including a tilapia brain cell line (OmB) developed in our lab. CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing is an additional tool aiding these studies by allowing manipulation of specific genetic loci and evaluating their causal relationship between phenotypes of interest. However, established CRISPR/Cas9 gene targeting tools and methods often have not functioned as efficiently in fish cells as seen in other animal cell models such as mammalian cell lines, consistent with our initial attempts to apply CRISPR/Cas9 in OmB cells that failed to indicate genomic alteration at the targeted sites. Poor expression of heterologous promoters in OmB cells was hypothesized to be a primary cause for this occurrence so we constructed a custom plasmid vector based system utilizing tilapia endogenous promoters (EF1 alpha to express Cas9 and a U6 to express gRNAs). This system demonstrated substantial editing of most target sites attempted with mutational efficiency as high 80%. This work specifically highlighted the importance of phylogenetic proximity in selection of a polymerasemore »
Structural and functional insights into the bona fide catalytic state of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 HNH nuclease domainThe DNA inside human cells provides instructions for all of the processes that happen inside the body. Errors in the DNA may lead to cancer, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, or other genetic disorders. Medical researchers are exploring whether it is possible to replace or repair the faulty DNA (an approach known as gene therapy) to reduce the symptoms, or even cure individuals, of these conditions. Over the last ten years, a new technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing has proved to be a reliable and efficient way to make small and precise changes to DNA in living cells. First, an enzyme called Cas9 searches for a segment of target DNA segment that matches a template molecule the enzyme carries. Cas9 then cuts the target DNA, which is repaired to match a new customized DNA sequence: this changes the genetic information of the cell. The Cas9 protein is made of a succession of building blocks called amino acids that create long chains which then fold to form the final three-dimensional shape of the enzyme. A region of Cas9 known as the HNH domain is responsible for cutting the target DNA. However, it remains unclear exactly which amino acidsmore »
An efficient vector-based CRISPR/Cas9 system in an Oreochromis mossambicus cell line using endogenous promoters
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing is effective in manipulating genetic loci in mammalian cell cultures and whole fish but efficient platforms applicable to fish cell lines are currently limited. Our initial attempts to employ this technology in fish cell lines using heterologous promoters or a ribonucleoprotein approach failed to indicate genomic alteration at targeted sites in a tilapia brain cell line (OmB). For potential use in a DNA vector approach, endogenous tilapia beta Actin (OmBAct), EF1 alpha (OmEF1a), and U6 (TU6) promoters were isolated. The strongest candidate promoter determined by EGFP reporter assay, OmEF1a, was used to drive constitutive Cas9 expression in a modified OmB cell line (Cas9-OmB1). Cas9-OmB1 cell transfection with vectors expressing gRNAs driven by the TU6 promoter achieved mutational efficiencies as high as 81% following hygromycin selection. Mutations were not detected using human and zebrafish U6 promoters demonstrating the phylogenetic proximity of U6 promoters as critical when used for gRNA expression. Sequence alteration to TU6 improved mutation rate and cloning efficiency. In conclusion, we report new tools for ectopic expression and a highly efficient, economical system for manipulation of genomic loci and evaluation of their causal relationship with adaptive cellular phenotypes by CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in fish cells.
A CRISPRi-dCas9 System for Archaea and Its Use To Examine Gene Function during Nitrogen Fixation by Methanosarcina acetivoransAtomi, Haruyuki (Ed.)ABSTRACT CRISPR-based systems are emerging as the premier method to manipulate many cellular processes. In this study, a simple and efficient CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system for targeted gene repression in archaea was developed. The Methanosarcina acetivorans CRISPR-Cas9 system was repurposed by replacing Cas9 with the catalytically dead Cas9 (dCas9) to generate a CRISPRi-dCas9 system for targeted gene repression. To test the utility of the system, genes involved in nitrogen (N 2 ) fixation were targeted for dCas9-mediated repression. First, the nif operon ( nifHI 1 I 2 DKEN ) that encodes molybdenum nitrogenase was targeted by separate guide RNAs (gRNAs), one targeting the promoter and the other targeting nifD . Remarkably, growth of M. acetivorans with N 2 was abolished by dCas9-mediated repression of the nif operon with each gRNA. The abundance of nif transcripts was >90% reduced in both strains expressing the gRNAs, and NifD was not detected in cell lysate. Next, we targeted NifB, which is required for nitrogenase cofactor biogenesis. Expression of a gRNA targeting the coding sequence of NifB decreased nifB transcript abundance >85% and impaired but did not abolish growth of M. acetivorans with N 2 . Finally, to ascertain the ability to study genemore »