A streamlined CRISPR/Cas9 approach for fast genome editing in Toxoplasma gondii and Besnoitia besnoiti
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) and Besnoitia besnoiti (B. besnoiti) are closely related coccidian parasites belonging to the phylum Apicomplexa, which comprises many other important pathogens of humans and livestock. T. gondii is considered a model organism for studying the cell biology of Apicomplexa mainly due to the ease of propagation in diverse host cells and the availability of a wide range of genetic tools. Conversely, B. besnoiti in vitro culture systems currently exist only for the acute phase of infection, and genetic manipulation has proven much more challenging. In recent years, the targeted editing of chromosomal DNA by the programmable CRISPR-associated (Cas)9 enzyme has greatly improved the scope and accuracy of genetic manipulation in T. gondii and related parasites but is still lagging in B. besnoiti. The CRISPR/Cas9 technology enables the introduction of single point and insertion/deletion mutations, precise integration of in-frame epitope tags, and deletions of genes at reduced time and cost compared to previous methods. Current protocols for CRISPR-mediated genome editing in T. gondii rely on either constitutive or transient expression of Cas9 as well as target specific sgRNAs encoded separately or together on transfected plasmid vectors. Constitutively expressed Cas9 carries the risk of toxicity, whilst the transient approach is laborious and error-prone. Here we present a protocol for plasmid vector-independent genome-editing using chemically synthesized and modified sgRNAs. This protocol allows for rapid, efficient, and cost-effective generation of mutant cell lines of T. gondii and B. besnoiti.
Chemical modifications, CRISPR/Cas9, efficiency, parasites, ribonucleoprotein
Citation: Hehl AB, Winiger RR. A streamlined CRISPR/Cas9 approach for fast genome editing in Toxoplasma gondii and Besnoitia besnoiti. J Biol Methods 2020;7(4):e140. doi: 10.14440/jbm.2020.343
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