October 23, 2019  |  

Streamlined ex vivo and in vivo genome editing in mouse embryos using recombinant adeno-associated viruses.

Recent advances using CRISPR-Cas9 approaches have dramatically enhanced the ease for genetic manipulation in rodents. Notwithstanding, the methods to deliver nucleic acids into pre-implantation embryos have hardly changed since the original description of mouse transgenesis more than 30 years ago. Here we report a novel strategy to generate genetically modified mice by transduction of CRISPR-Cas9 components into pre-implantation mouse embryos via recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAVs). Using this approach, we efficiently generated a variety of targeted mutations in explanted embryos, including indel events produced by non-homologous end joining and tailored mutations using homology-directed repair. We also achieved gene modification in vivo by direct delivery of rAAV particles into the oviduct of pregnant females. Our approach greatly simplifies the generation of genetically modified mice and, more importantly, opens the door for streamlined gene editing in other mammalian species.

October 23, 2019  |  

Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of trinucleotide repeat expansion in myotonic dystrophy patient-derived iPS and myogenic cells.

CRISPR/Cas9 is an attractive platform to potentially correct dominant genetic diseases by gene editing with unprecedented precision. In the current proof-of-principle study, we explored the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene-editing in myotonic dystrophy type-1 (DM1), an autosomal-dominant muscle disorder, by excising the CTG-repeat expansion in the 3′-untranslated-region (UTR) of the human myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK) gene in DM1 patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (DM1-iPSC), DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 patient-specific myoblasts. To eliminate the pathogenic gain-of-function mutant DMPK transcript, we designed a dual guide RNA based strategy that excises the CTG-repeat expansion with high efficiency, as confirmed by Southern blot and single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. Correction efficiencies up to 90% could be attained in DM1-iPSC as confirmed at the clonal level, following ribonucleoprotein (RNP) transfection of CRISPR/Cas9 components without the need for selective enrichment. Expanded CTG repeat excision resulted in the disappearance of ribonuclear foci, a quintessential cellular phenotype of DM1, in the corrected DM1-iPSC, DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 myoblasts. Consequently, the normal intracellular localization of the muscleblind-like splicing regulator 1 (MBNL1) was restored, resulting in the normalization of splicing pattern of SERCA1. This study validates the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene editing of repeat expansions.

September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.

September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic mosaicism of an intragenic FANCB duplication in both fibroblast and peripheral blood cells observed in a Fanconi anemia patient leads to milder phenotype.

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare disorder characterized by congenital malformations, progressive bone marrow failure, and predisposition to cancer. Patients harboring X-linked FANCB pathogenic variants usually present with severe congenital malformations resembling VACTERL syndrome with hydrocephalus.We employed the diepoxybutane (DEB) test for FA diagnosis, arrayCGH for detection of duplication, targeted capture and next-gen sequencing for defining the duplication breakpoint, PacBio sequencing of full-length FANCB aberrant transcript, FANCD2 ubiquitination and foci formation assays for the evaluation of FANCB protein function by viral transduction of FANCB-null cells with lentiviral FANCB WT and mutant expression constructs, and droplet digital PCR for quantitation of the duplication in the genomic DNA and cDNA.We describe here an FA-B patient with a mild phenotype. The DEB diagnostic test for FA revealed somatic mosaicism. We identified a 9154 bp intragenic duplication in FANCB, covering the first coding exon 3 and the flanking regions. A four bp homology (GTAG) present at both ends of the breakpoint is consistent with microhomology-mediated duplication mechanism. The duplicated allele gives rise to an aberrant transcript containing exon 3 duplication, predicted to introduce a stop codon in FANCB protein (p.A319*). Duplication levels in the peripheral blood DNA declined from 93% to 7.9% in the span of eleven years. Moreover, the patient fibroblasts have shown 8% of wild-type (WT) allele and his carrier mother showed higher than expected levels of WT allele (79% vs. 50%) in peripheral blood, suggesting that the duplication was highly unstable.Unlike sequence point variants, intragenic duplications are difficult to precisely define, accurately quantify, and may be very unstable, challenging the proper diagnosis. The reversion of genomic duplication to the WT allele results in somatic mosaicism and may explain the relatively milder phenotype displayed by the FA-B patient described here.© 2017 The Authors. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons.

The diversity and complexity of the human brain are widely assumed to be encoded within a constant genome. Somatic gene recombination, which changes germline DNA sequences to increase molecular diversity, could theoretically alter this code but has not been documented in the brain, to our knowledge. Here we describe recombination of the Alzheimer’s disease-related gene APP, which encodes amyloid precursor protein, in human neurons, occurring mosaically as thousands of variant ‘genomic cDNAs’ (gencDNAs). gencDNAs lacked introns and ranged from full-length cDNA copies of expressed, brain-specific RNA splice variants to myriad smaller forms that contained intra-exonic junctions, insertions, deletions, and/or single nucleotide variations. DNA in situ hybridization identified gencDNAs within single neurons that were distinct from wild-type loci and absent from non-neuronal cells. Mechanistic studies supported neuronal ‘retro-insertion’ of RNA to produce gencDNAs; this process involved transcription, DNA breaks, reverse transcriptase activity, and age. Neurons from individuals with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease showed increased gencDNA diversity, including eleven mutations known to be associated with familial Alzheimer’s disease that were absent from healthy neurons. Neuronal gene recombination may allow ‘recording’ of neural activity for selective ‘playback’ of preferred gene variants whose expression bypasses splicing; this has implications for cellular diversity, learning and memory, plasticity, and diseases of the human brain.

September 22, 2019  |  

Computational tools to unmask transposable elements.

A substantial proportion of the genome of many species is derived from transposable elements (TEs). Moreover, through various self-copying mechanisms, TEs continue to proliferate in the genomes of most species. TEs have contributed numerous regulatory, transcript and protein innovations and have also been linked to disease. However, notwithstanding their demonstrated impact, many genomic studies still exclude them because their repetitive nature results in various analytical complexities. Fortunately, a growing array of methods and software tools are being developed to cater for them. This Review presents a summary of computational resources for TEs and highlights some of the challenges and remaining gaps to perform comprehensive genomic analyses that do not simply ‘mask’ repeats.

September 22, 2019  |  

Mosaicism diminishes the value of pre-implantation embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9 induced mutations in sheep.

The production of knock-out (KO) livestock models is both expensive and time consuming due to their long gestational interval and low number of offspring. One alternative to increase efficiency is performing a genetic screening to select pre-implantation embryos that have incorporated the desired mutation. Here we report the use of sheep embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutations targeting the gene PDX1 prior to embryo transfer. PDX1 is a critical gene for pancreas development and the target gene required for the creation of pancreatogenesis-disabled sheep. We evaluated the viability of biopsied embryos in vitro and in vivo, and we determined the mutation efficiency using PCR combined with gel electrophoresis and digital droplet PCR (ddPCR). Next, we determined the presence of mosaicism in?~?50% of the recovered fetuses employing a clonal sequencing methodology. While the use of biopsies did not compromise embryo viability, the presence of mosaicism diminished the diagnostic value of the technique. If mosaicism could be overcome, pre-implantation embryo biopsies for mutation screening represents a powerful approach that will streamline the creation of KO animals.

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