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A versatile two-step CRISPR- and RMCE-based strategy for efficient genome engineering in Drosophila

By Xu Zhang, Wouter Koolhaas, Frank Schnorrer

Posted 11 Aug 2014
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/007864 (published DOI: 10.1534/g3.114.013979)

The development of CRISPR/Cas9 technologies promises a quantum leap in genome-engineering of model organisms. However, CRISPR-mediated gene targeting reports in Drosophila are still restricted to a few genes, use variable experimental conditions and vary in efficiency, questioning the universal applicability of the method. Here, we developed an efficient, two-step strategy to flexibly engineer the fly genome by combining CRISPR with recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE). In the first step, two sgRNAs, whose activity had been tested in cell culture, were co-injected together with a donor plasmid into transgenic Act5C-Cas9, Ligase4 mutant embryos and the homologous integration events were identified by eye fluorescence. In the second step, the eye marker was replaced with DNA sequences of choice using RMCE enabling flexible gene modification. We applied this strategy to engineer four different loci, including a gene on the fourth chromosome, at comparably high efficiencies, suggesting that any fly lab can engineer their favourite gene for a broad range of applications within about three months.

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