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      Optimized sgRNA design to maximize activity and minimize off-target effects of CRISPR-Cas9

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          Abstract

          CRISPR-Cas9-based genetic screens are a powerful new tool in biology. By simply altering the sequence of the single-guide RNA (sgRNA), Cas9 can be reprogrammed to target different sites in the genome with relative ease, but the on-target activity and off-target effects of individual sgRNAs can vary widely. Here, we use recently-devised sgRNA design rules to create human and mouse genome-wide libraries, perform positive and negative selection screens and observe that the use of these rules produced improved results. Additionally, we profile the off-target activity of thousands of sgRNAs and develop a metric to predict off-target sites. We incorporate these findings from large-scale, empirical data to improve our computational design rules and create optimized sgRNA libraries that maximize on-target activity and minimize off-target effects to enable more effective and efficient genetic screens and genome engineering.

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          Most cited references17

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          Fast gapped-read alignment with Bowtie 2.

          As the rate of sequencing increases, greater throughput is demanded from read aligners. The full-text minute index is often used to make alignment very fast and memory-efficient, but the approach is ill-suited to finding longer, gapped alignments. Bowtie 2 combines the strengths of the full-text minute index with the flexibility and speed of hardware-accelerated dynamic programming algorithms to achieve a combination of high speed, sensitivity and accuracy.
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            Genome-wide recessive genetic screening in mammalian cells with a lentiviral CRISPR-guide RNA library.

            Identification of genes influencing a phenotype of interest is frequently achieved through genetic screening by RNA interference (RNAi) or knockouts. However, RNAi may only achieve partial depletion of gene activity, and knockout-based screens are difficult in diploid mammalian cells. Here we took advantage of the efficiency and high throughput of genome editing based on type II, clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems to introduce genome-wide targeted mutations in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We designed 87,897 guide RNAs (gRNAs) targeting 19,150 mouse protein-coding genes and used a lentiviral vector to express these gRNAs in ESCs that constitutively express Cas9. Screening the resulting ESC mutant libraries for resistance to either Clostridium septicum alpha-toxin or 6-thioguanine identified 27 known and 4 previously unknown genes implicated in these phenotypes. Our results demonstrate the potential for efficient loss-of-function screening using the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
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              COT/MAP3K8 drives resistance to RAF inhibition through MAP kinase pathway reactivation

              Oncogenic mutations in the serine/threonine kinase B-RAF are found in 50–70% of malignant melanomas1. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that the B-RAFV600E mutation predicts a dependency on the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade in melanoma1–5—an observation that has been validated by the success of RAF and MEK inhibitors in clinical trials6–8. However, clinical responses to targeted anticancer therapeutics are frequently confounded by de novo or acquired resistance9–11. Identification of resistance mechanisms in a manner that elucidates alternative ‘druggable’ targets may inform effective long-term treatment strategies12. Here, we expressed ~600 kinase and kinase-related open reading frames (ORFs) in parallel to functionally interrogate resistance to a selective RAF kinase inhibitor. We identified MAP3K8 (COT/TPL2) as a MAPK pathway agonist that drives resistance to RAF inhibition in B-RAFV600E cell lines. COT activates ERK primarily through MEK-dependent mechanisms that do not require RAF signaling. Moreover, COT expression is associated with de novo resistance in B-RAFV600E cultured cell lines and acquired resistance in melanoma cells and tissue obtained from relapsing patients following treatment with MEK or RAF inhibition. We further identify combinatorial MAPK pathway inhibition or targeting of COT kinase activity as possible therapeutic strategies for reducing MAPK pathway activation in this setting. Together, these results provide new insights into resistance mechanisms involving the MAPK pathway and articulate an integrative approach through which high-throughput functional screens may inform the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                9604648
                20305
                Nat Biotechnol
                Nat. Biotechnol.
                Nature biotechnology
                1087-0156
                1546-1696
                30 November 2015
                18 January 2016
                February 2016
                18 July 2016
                : 34
                : 2
                : 184-191
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
                [2 ] Microsoft Research New England, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
                [3 ] Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Division of Hematologic Malignancies, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                [4 ] Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Immunology, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
                Author notes
                Article
                NIHMS740733
                10.1038/nbt.3437
                4744125
                26780180
                381013c8-d133-4e74-a201-73dd7ba0ae82

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                Biotechnology
                Biotechnology

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