CRISPR with independent transgenes is a safe and robust alternative to autonomous gene drives in basic research
CRISPR/Cas technology allows rapid, site-specific genome modification in a wide variety of organisms. CRISPR components produced by integrated transgenes have been shown to mutagenise some genomic target sites in Drosophila melanogaster with high efficiency, but whether this is a general feature of this system remains unknown. Here, we systematically evaluate available CRISPR/Cas reagents and experimental designs in Drosophila. Our findings allow evidence-based choices of Cas9 sources and strategies for generating knock-in alleles. We perform gene editing at a large number of target sites using a highly active Cas9 line and a collection of transgenic gRNA strains. The vast majority of target sites can be mutated with remarkable efficiency using these tools. We contrast our method to recently developed autonomous gene drive technology for genome engineering (Gantz & Bier, 2015) and conclude that optimised CRISPR with independent transgenes is as efficient, more versatile and does not represent a biosafety risk.
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