Systematic gene tagging using CRISPR/Cas9 in human stem cells to illuminate cell organization

Mol Biol Cell. 2017 Oct 15;28(21):2854-2874. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E17-03-0209. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


We present a CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing strategy to systematically tag endogenous proteins with fluorescent tags in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC). To date, we have generated multiple hiPSC lines with monoallelic green fluorescent protein tags labeling 10 proteins representing major cellular structures. The tagged proteins include alpha tubulin, beta actin, desmoplakin, fibrillarin, nuclear lamin B1, nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIB, paxillin, Sec61 beta, tight junction protein ZO1, and Tom20. Our genome-editing methodology using Cas9/crRNA ribonuclear protein and donor plasmid coelectroporation, followed by fluorescence-based enrichment of edited cells, typically resulted in <0.1-4% homology-directed repair (HDR). Twenty-five percent of clones generated from each edited population were precisely edited. Furthermore, 92% (36/39) of expanded clonal lines displayed robust morphology, genomic stability, expression and localization of the tagged protein to the appropriate subcellular structure, pluripotency-marker expression, and multilineage differentiation. It is our conclusion that, if cell lines are confirmed to harbor an appropriate gene edit, pluripotency, differentiation potential, and genomic stability are typically maintained during the clonal line-generation process. The data described here reveal general trends that emerged from this systematic gene-tagging approach. Final clonal lines corresponding to each of the 10 cellular structures are now available to the research community.

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Cell Line
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods*
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • Gene Targeting / methods
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins