Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer a unique platform for elucidating the genes and molecular pathways that underlie complex traits and diseases. To realize this promise, methods for rapid and controllable genetic manipulations are urgently needed. By combining two newly developed gene-editing tools, the TALEN and CRISPR/Cas systems, we have developed a genome-engineering platform in hPSCs, which we named iCRISPR. iCRISPR enabled rapid and highly efficient generation of biallelic knockout hPSCs for loss-of-function studies, as well as homozygous knockin hPSCs with specific nucleotide alterations for precise modeling of disease conditions. We further demonstrate efficient one-step generation of double- and triple-gene knockout hPSC lines, as well as stage-specific inducible gene knockout during hPSC differentiation. Thus the iCRISPR platform is uniquely suited for dissection of complex genetic interactions and pleiotropic gene functions in human disease studies and has the potential to support high-throughput genetic analysis in hPSCs.
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