Cas9HF1 enhanced specificity in Ustilago maydis

Fungal Biol. 2020 Mar-Apr;124(3-4):228-234. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2020.02.006. Epub 2020 Feb 22.


The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 system is widely used as a tool to precisely manipulate genomic sequence targeted by sgRNA (single guide RNA) and is adapted in different species for genome editing. One of the major concerns of CRISPR-Cas9 is the possibility of off-target effects, which can be remedied by the deployment of high fidelity Cas9 variants. Ustilago maydis is a maize fungal pathogen, which has served as a model organism for biotrophic pathogens for decades. The successful adaption of CRISPR-Cas9 in U. maydis greatly facilitated effector biology studies. Here, we constructed an U. maydis reporter strain that allows in vivo quantification of efficiency and target specificity of three high fidelity Cas9 variants, Cas9HF1, Cas9esp1.1 and Cas9hypa. This approach identified Cas9HF1 as most specific Cas9 variant in U. maydis. Furthermore, whole genome sequencing showed absence of off-target effects in U. maydis by CRISPR-Cas9 editing.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; Fungi genome editing; Off-site targets; Whole genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / genetics*
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Whole Genome Sequencing


  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9

Supplementary concepts

  • Ustilago maydis