Engineering CRISPR/Cpf1 with tRNA promotes genome editing capability in mammalian systems

Han Wu, Qishuai Liu, Hui Shi, Jingke Xie, Quanjun Zhang, Zhen Ouyang, Nan Li, Yi Yang, Zhaoming Liu, Yu Zhao, Chengdan Lai, Degong Ruan, Jiangyun Peng, Weikai Ge, Fangbing Chen, Nana Fan, Qin Jin, Yanhui Liang, Ting Lan, Xiaoyu Yang, Xiaoshan Wang, Zhiyong Lei, Pieter A. Doevendans, Joost P. G. Sluijter, Kepin Wang, Xiaoping Li & Liangxue Lai

Published: 01/10/2018


CRISPR/Cpf1 features a number of properties that are distinct from CRISPR/Cas9 and provides an excellent alternative to Cas9 for genome editing. To date, genome engineering by CRISPR/Cpf1 has been reported only in human cells and mouse embryos of mammalian systems and its efficiency is ultimately lower than that of Cas9 proteins from Streptococcus pyogenes. The application of CRISPR/Cpf1 for targeted mutagenesis in other animal models has not been successfully verified. In this study, we designed and optimized a guide RNA (gRNA) transcription system by inserting a transfer RNA precursor (pre-tRNA) sequence downstream of the gRNA for Cpf1, protecting gRNA from immediate digestion by 3′-to-5′ exonucleases. Using this new gRNAtRNA system, genome editing, including indels, large fragment deletion and precise point mutation, was induced in mammalian systems, showing significantly higher efficiency than the original Cpf1-gRNA system. With this system, gene-modified rabbits and pigs were generated by embryo injection or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) with an efficiency comparable to that of the Cas9 gRNA system. These results demonstrated that this refined gRNAtRNA system can boost the targeting capability of CRISPR/Cpf1 toolkits.

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