Correction of a genetic disease by CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene editing in mouse spermatogonial stem cells

Cell Res. 2015 Jan;25(1):67-79. doi: 10.1038/cr.2014.160. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can produce numerous male gametes after transplantation into recipient testes, presenting a valuable approach for gene therapy and continuous production of gene-modified animals. However, successful genetic manipulation of SSCs has been limited, partially due to complexity and low efficiency of currently available genetic editing techniques. Here, we show that efficient genetic modifications can be introduced into SSCs using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. We used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to mutate an EGFP transgene or the endogenous Crygc gene in SCCs. The mutated SSCs underwent spermatogenesis after transplantation into the seminiferous tubules of infertile mouse testes. Round spermatids were generated and, after injection into mature oocytes, supported the production of heterozygous offspring displaying the corresponding mutant phenotypes. Furthermore, a disease-causing mutation in Crygc (Crygc(-/-)) that pre-existed in SSCs could be readily repaired by CRISPR-Cas9-induced nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology-directed repair (HDR), resulting in SSC lines carrying the corrected gene with no evidence of off-target modifications as shown by whole-genome sequencing. Fertilization using round spermatids generated from these lines gave rise to offspring with the corrected phenotype at an efficiency of 100%. Our results demonstrate efficient gene editing in mouse SSCs by the CRISPR-Cas9 system, and provide the proof of principle of curing a genetic disease via gene correction in SSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Adult Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA End-Joining Repair
  • Female
  • Genes, erbB-1
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Infertility, Male / genetics*
  • Infertility, Male / therapy*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Transgenes
  • gamma-Crystallins / genetics


  • gamma-Crystallins
  • gammaC-crystallin protein, mouse

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE60485