Genome-editing technology has revolutionized the field of biology. Here, we report a novel de novo gene-targeting method mediated by in utero electroporation into the developing mammalian brain. Electroporation of donor DNA with the CRISPR/Cas9 system vectors successfully leads to knock-in of the donor sequence, such as EGFP, to the target site via the homology-directed repair mechanism. We developed a targeting vector system optimized to prevent anomalous leaky expression of the donor gene from the plasmid, which otherwise often occurs depending on the donor sequence. The knock-in efficiency of the electroporated progenitors reached up to 40% in the early stage and 20% in the late stage of the developing mouse brain. Furthermore, we inserted different fluorescent markers into the target gene in each homologous chromosome, successfully distinguishing homozygous knock-in cells by color. We also applied this de novo gene targeting to the ferret model for the study of complex mammalian brains. Our results demonstrate that this technique is widely applicable for monitoring gene expression, visualizing protein localization, lineage analysis and gene knockout, all at the single-cell level, in developmental tissues.
Keywords: CAS9; CRISPR; Ferret; Gene knock-in; In utero electroporation; Lineage tracing; Mouse.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.