Targeted endonucleases including zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs)/Cas9 are increasingly being used for genome editing in higher species. We therefore devised a broadly applicable and versatile method for increasing editing efficiencies by these tools. Briefly, 2A peptide-coupled co-expression of fluorescent protein and nuclease was combined with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to allow for efficient isolation of cell populations with increasingly higher nuclease expression levels, which translated into increasingly higher genome editing rates. For ZFNs, this approach, combined with delivery of donors as single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides and nucleases as messenger ribonucleic acid, enabled high knockin efficiencies in demanding applications, including biallelic codon conversion frequencies reaching 30-70% at high transfection efficiencies and ∼ 2% at low transfection efficiencies, simultaneous homozygous knockin mutation of two genes with ∼ 1.5% efficiency as well as generation of cell pools with almost complete codon conversion via three consecutive targeting and FACS events. Observed off-target effects were minimal, and when occurring, our data suggest that they may be counteracted by selecting intermediate nuclease levels where off-target mutagenesis is low, but on-target mutagenesis remains relatively high. The method was also applicable to the CRISPR/Cas9 system, including CRISPR/Cas9 mutant nickase pairs, which exhibit low off-target mutagenesis compared to wild-type Cas9.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press.