Development of a new approach for targeted gene editing in primordial germ cells using TALENs in Xenopus

Biol Open. 2015 Feb 6;4(3):259-66. doi: 10.1242/bio.201410926.


A gene of interest can be efficiently modified using transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) (Christian et al., 2010;Li et al., 2011). However, if a target gene is essential for development, growth and fertility, use of TALENs with high mutagenic activity in F0 frogs could result in developmental disorders or sterility, which would reduce the number of F1 progeny and make F1 phenotypical analysis difficult. We used the 3' untranslated region of DEADSouth gene (DS-3') of Xenopus tropicalis to solve this problem, because the addition of the DS-3' to mRNA is known to induce primordial germ cell (PGC)-specific expression and reduce the stability in somatic cells of mRNA in Xenopus laevis. At first, we inserted the X. tropicalis DS-3' downstream of the EGFP termination codon and confirmed that the EGFP expression was specifically detected in PGCs for three weeks. Therefore, we inserted the DS-3' downstream of the termination codon of the TALEN coding sequence. The tyrosinase gene was selected as the target gene for TALEN because the bi-allelic mutation of this gene is easily discernible by the albino phenotype. When fertilized eggs were microinjected with TALEN mRNAs fused to the DS-3', their sperm and oocytes had a high rate (84-100%) of target-gene modification in contrast to the lower rate (0-45%) of nucleotide alteration observed in somatic cells.

Keywords: Genomic editing; Primordial germ cells; TALENs; Targeted gene knockout; Xenopus tropicalis.