Genetic interaction screens are a powerful methodology to establish novel roles for genes and elucidate functional connections between genes. Such studies have been performed to great effect in single-cell organisms such as yeast and E. coli (Schuldiner et al., 2005; Butland et al., 2008; Costanzo et al., 2010), but similar large-scale interaction studies using targeted reverse-genetic deletions in multi-cellular organisms have not been feasible. We developed a CRISPR/Cas9-based method for deleting genes in C. elegans and replacing them with a heterologous fluorescent reporter (Norris et al., 2015). Recently we took advantage of that system to perform a large-scale, reverse genetic screen using null alleles in animals for the first time, focusing on RNA binding protein genes (Norris et al., 2017). This type of approach should be similarly applicable to many other gene classes in C. elegans. Here we detail the protocols involved in generating a library of double mutants and performing medium-throughput competitive fitness assays to test for genetic interactions resulting in fitness changes.
Keywords: C. elegans; Combinatorial genetics; Fitness; Genetics; RNA binding protein.