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      Expanding the CRISPR Toolbox in Zebrafish for Studying Development and Disease

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          The study of model organisms has revolutionized our understanding of the mechanisms underlying normal development, adult homeostasis, and human disease. Much of what we know about gene function in model organisms (and its application to humans) has come from gene knockouts: the ability to show analogous phenotypes upon gene inactivation in animal models. The zebrafish ( Danio rerio) has become a popular model organism for many reasons, including the fact that it is amenable to various forms of genetic manipulation. The RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeted mutagenesis approaches have provided powerful tools to manipulate the genome toward developing new disease models and understanding the pathophysiology of human diseases. CRISPR-based approaches are being used for the generation of both knockout and knock-in alleles, and also for applications including transcriptional modulation, epigenome editing, live imaging of the genome, and lineage tracing. Currently, substantial effort is being made to improve the specificity of Cas9, and to expand the target coverage of the Cas9 enzymes. Novel types of naturally occurring CRISPR systems [Cas12a (Cpf1); engineered variants of Cas9, such as xCas9 and SpCas9-NG], are being studied and applied to genome editing. Since the majority of pathogenic mutations are single point mutations, development of base editors to convert C:G to T:A or A:T to G:C has further strengthened the CRISPR toolbox. In this review, we provide an overview of the increasing number of novel CRISPR-based tools and approaches, including lineage tracing and base editing.

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          Most cited references 82

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          Efficient In Vivo Genome Editing Using RNA-Guided Nucleases

          Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems have evolved in bacteria and archaea as a defense mechanism to silence foreign nucleic acids of viruses and plasmids. Recent work has shown that bacterial type II CRISPR systems can be adapted to create guide RNAs (gRNAs) capable of directing site-specific DNA cleavage by the Cas9 nuclease in vitro. Here we show that this system can function in vivo to induce targeted genetic modifications in zebrafish embryos with efficiencies comparable to those obtained using ZFNs and TALENs for the same genes. RNA-guided nucleases robustly enabled genome editing at 9 of 11 different sites tested, including two for which TALENs previously failed to induce alterations. These results demonstrate that programmable CRISPR/Cas systems provide a simple, rapid, and highly scalable method for altering genes in vivo, opening the door to using RNA-guided nucleases for genome editing in a wide range of organisms.
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            Epigenome editing by a CRISPR/Cas9-based acetyltransferase activates genes from promoters and enhancers

            Technologies that facilitate the targeted manipulation of epigenetic marks could be used to precisely control cell phenotype or interrogate the relationship between the epigenome and transcriptional control. Here we have generated a programmable acetyltransferase based on the CRISPR/Cas9 gene regulation system, consisting of the nuclease-null dCas9 protein fused to the catalytic core of the human acetyltransferase p300. This fusion protein catalyzes acetylation of histone H3 lysine 27 at its target sites, corresponding with robust transcriptional activation of target genes from promoters, proximal enhancers, and distal enhancers. Gene activation by the targeted acetyltransferase is highly specific across the genome. In contrast to conventional dCas9-based activators, the acetyltransferase effectively activates genes from enhancer regions and with individual guide RNAs. The core p300 domain is also portable to other programmable DNA-binding proteins. These results support targeted acetylation as a causal mechanism of transactivation and provide a new robust tool for manipulating gene regulation.
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              Efficient multiplex biallelic zebrafish genome editing using a CRISPR nuclease system.

              A simple and robust method for targeted mutagenesis in zebrafish has long been sought. Previous methods generate monoallelic mutations in the germ line of F0 animals, usually delaying homozygosity for the mutation to the F2 generation. Generation of robust biallelic mutations in the F0 would allow for phenotypic analysis directly in injected animals. Recently the type II prokaryotic clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated proteins (Cas) system has been adapted to serve as a targeted genome mutagenesis tool. Here we report an improved CRISPR/Cas system in zebrafish with custom guide RNAs and a zebrafish codon-optimized Cas9 protein that efficiently targeted a reporter transgene Tg(-5.1mnx1:egfp) and four endogenous loci (tyr, golden, mitfa, and ddx19). Mutagenesis rates reached 75-99%, indicating that most cells contained biallelic mutations. Recessive null-like phenotypes were observed in four of the five targeting cases, supporting high rates of biallelic gene disruption. We also observed efficient germ-line transmission of the Cas9-induced mutations. Finally, five genomic loci can be targeted simultaneously, resulting in multiple loss-of-function phenotypes in the same injected fish. This CRISPR/Cas9 system represents a highly effective and scalable gene knockout method in zebrafish and has the potential for applications in other model organisms.

                Author and article information

                Front Cell Dev Biol
                Front Cell Dev Biol
                Front. Cell Dev. Biol.
                Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                04 March 2019
                : 7
                Functional and Chemical Genomics Research Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation , Oklahoma City, OK, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Gokhan Dalgin, The University of Chicago, United States

                Reviewed by: Mingyu Li, Xiamen University, China; Máté Varga, Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

                *Correspondence: Gaurav K. Varshney, gaurav-varshney@

                This article was submitted to Molecular Medicine, a section of the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology

                Copyright © 2019 Liu, Petree, Requena, Varshney and Varshney.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 126, Pages: 15, Words: 0
                Funded by: National Institutes of Health 10.13039/100000002
                Cell and Developmental Biology


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