Homology-Directed Repair of a Defective Glabrous Gene in Arabidopsis With Cas9-Based Gene Targeting

Front Plant Sci. 2018 Apr 5;9:424. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00424. eCollection 2018.


The CRISPR/Cas9 system has emerged as a powerful tool for targeted genome editing in plants and beyond. Double-strand breaks induced by the Cas9 enzyme are repaired by the cell's own repair machinery either by the non-homologous end joining pathway or by homologous recombination (HR). While the first repair mechanism results in random mutations at the double-strand break site, HR uses the genetic information from a highly homologous repair template as blueprint for repair of the break. By offering an artificial repair template, this pathway can be exploited to introduce specific changes at a site of choice in the genome. However, frequencies of double-strand break repair by HR are very low. In this study, we compared two methods that have been reported to enhance frequencies of HR in plants. The first method boosts the repair template availability through the formation of viral replicons, the second method makes use of an in planta gene targeting (IPGT) approach. Additionally, we comparatively applied a nickase instead of a nuclease for target strand priming. To allow easy, visual detection of HR events, we aimed at restoring trichome formation in a glabrous Arabidopsis mutant by repairing a defective glabrous1 gene. Using this efficient visual marker, we were able to regenerate plants repaired by HR at frequencies of 0.12% using the IPGT approach, while both approaches using viral replicons did not yield any trichome-bearing plants.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; Glabrous1; gene editing; homologous recombination; in planta gene targeting; marker; trichomes; viral replicons.