Targeted RNA Knockdown by a Type III CRISPR-Cas Complex in Zebrafish

CRISPR J. 2020 Aug;3(4):299-313. doi: 10.1089/crispr.2020.0032.


RNA interference is a powerful experimental tool for RNA knockdown, but not all organisms are amenable. Here, we provide a proof of principle demonstration that a type III Csm effector complex can be used for programmable mRNA transcript degradation in eukaryotes. In zebrafish, Streptococcus thermophilus Csm complex (StCsm) proved effective for knockdown of maternally expressed EGFP in germ cells of Tg(ddx4:ddx4-EGFP) fish. It also led to significant, albeit less drastic, fluorescence reduction at one day postfertilization in Tg(myl7:GFP) and Tg(fli1:EGFP) fish that express EGFP zygotically. StCsm targeted against the endogenous tdgf1 elicited the characteristic one-eyed phenotype with greater than 50% penetrance, and hence with similar efficiency to morpholino-mediated knockdown. We conclude that Csm-mediated knockdown is very efficient for maternal transcripts and can also be used for mixed maternal/early zygotic and early zygotic transcripts, in some cases reaching comparable efficiency to morpholino-based knockdown without significant off-target effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • RNA Stability*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Streptococcus thermophilus / enzymology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger