Gene-modified animals, including pigs, can be generated efficiently by introducing CRISPR associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9) into zygotes. However, in many cases, these zygotes tend to become mosaic mutants with various different mutant cell types, making it difficult to analyze the phenotype of gene-modified founder animals. To reduce the mosaic mutations, we introduced three-prime repair exonuclease 2 (Trex2), an exonuclease that improves gene editing efficiency, into porcine zygotes along with CRISPR/Cas9 via electroporation. Although the rate of porcine blastocyst formation decreased due to electroporation (25.9 ± 4.6% vs. 41.2 ± 2.0%), co-delivery of murine Trex2 (mTrex2) mRNA with CRISPR/Cas9 did not affect it any further (25.9 ± 4.6% vs. 31.0 ± 4.6%). In addition, there was no significant difference in the diameter of blastocysts carrying CRISPR/Cas9 (164.7 ± 10.2 μm), and those with CRISPR/Cas9 + mTrex2 (151.9 ± 5.1 μm) as compared to those from the control group (178.9 ± 9.0 μm). These results revealed that mTrex2 did not affect the development of pre-implantation embryo. We also found bi-allelic, as well as mono-allelic, non-mosaic homozygous mutations in the blastocysts. Most importantly, co-delivery of mTrex2 mRNA with CRISPR/Cas9 increased non-mosaic mutant blastocysts (29.3 ± 4.5%) and reduced mosaic mutant blastocysts (70.7 ± 4.5%) as compared to CRISPR/Cas9 alone (5.6 ± 6.4% and 92.6 ± 8.6%, respectively). These data suggest that the co-delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 and mTrex2 is a useful method to suppress mosaic mutation.
Keywords: CRISPR associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9); Electroporation; Gene editing; Mosaic mutants; Three-prime repair exonuclease 2 (Trex2) exonuclease.