This study was conducted to confirm that 1-site and 4-site ppU6-GGTA1-gRNA CRISPR vectors together with the pCX-Flag2-NLS1-Cas9-NLS2 plasmid can both generate KO pigs by direct pronuclear microinjection. In total, 41 and 53 fertilized eggs were microinjected on 1-site and 4-site strategies, respectively. The 1-site construction generated a litter of 8 piglets, and 2 were mono-allelic mutant (mMt). The injection of 4-site constructions resulted in one biallelic mutant (bMt) and one mMt piglet in a litter of 7. Those 3 mMt pigs had a 4 bp deletion, 5 bp insertion, or 7 bp insertion at site I, and the bMt pig had 5 types of mutations at cleavage sites I and III. The expression of alpha-Gal on the bMt peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was reduced, and survival rate of bMt PBMCs was maintained as indicated by results of cultivation with sera of humans or Formosan Macaques. We concluded that mutant pigs could be generated by direct pronuclear microinjection of ppU6-GGTA1-gRNA CRISPR vectors with the pCX-Flag2-NLS1-Cas9-NLS2 plasmid and that the 4-site strategy has a better mutant efficiency. Porcine U6 promoter was firstly used to express KO vectors and effectively generate mutant pigs, worthily to adopt for future KO studies.
Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9 KO Plasmid; GGTA1 mutant pigs; RNA polymerase III promoter; pronuclear microinjection.