Super-Mendelian inheritance mediated by CRISPR-Cas9 in the female mouse germline

Pdf of the poster (HAG_TAGC2020 Poster.pdf) and Video/Audio walk through (

Super-Mendelian inheritance mediated by CRISPR–Cas9 in the female mouse germline.

A gene drive biases the transmission of one of the two copies of a gene such that it is inherited more frequently than by random segregation. Highly efficient gene drive systems that have recently been developed in insects, which leverage the sequence-targeted DNA cleavage activity of CRISPR–Cas9 and endogenous homology- directed repair mechanisms to convert heterozygous genotypes to homozygosity. If implemented in laboratory rodents, similar systems would enable the rapid assembly of currently impractical genotypes that involve multiple homozygous genes (for example, to model multigenic human diseases). To our knowledge, however, such a system has not yet been demonstrated in mammals. Here we use an active genetic element that encodes a guide RNA, which is embedded in the mouse tyrosinase (Tyr) gene, to evaluate whether targeted gene conversion can occur when CRISPR–Cas9 is active in the early embryo or in the developing germline. Although Cas9 efficiently induces double-stranded DNA breaks in the early embryo and male germline, these breaks are not corrected by homology- directed repair. By contrast, Cas9 expression limited to the female germline induces double-stranded breaks that are corrected by homology-directed repair, which copies the active genetic element from the donor to the receiver chromosome and increases its rate of inheritance in the next generation. These results demonstrate the feasibility of CRISPR–Cas9-mediated systems that bias inheritance of desired alleles in mice and that have the potential to transform the use of rodent models in basic and biomedical research.