Sand Fly (Phlebotomus papatasi) Embryo Microinjection for CRISPR/Cas9 Mutagenesis

J Vis Exp. 2020 Nov 17;(165). doi: 10.3791/61924.


Sand flies are the natural vectors for Leishmania species, protozoan parasites producing a broad spectrum of symptoms ranging from cutaneous lesions to visceral pathology. Deciphering the nature of the vector/parasite interactions is of primary importance for better understanding of Leishmania transmission to their hosts. Among the parameters controlling the sand fly vector competence (i.e. their ability to carry and transmit pathogens), parameters intrinsic to these insects were shown to play a key role. Insect immune response, for example, impacts sand fly vector competence to Leishmania. The study of such parameters has been limited by the lack of methods of gene expression modification adapted for use in these non-model organisms. Gene downregulation by small interfering RNA (siRNA) is possible, but in addition to being technically challenging, the silencing leads to only a partial loss of function, which cannot be transmitted from generation to generation. Targeted mutagenesis by CRISPR/Cas9 technology was recently adapted to the Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly. This technique leads to the generation of transmissible mutations in a specifically chosen locus, allowing to study the genes of interest. The CRISPR/Cas9 system relies on the induction of targeted double-strand DNA breaks, later repaired by either Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) or by Homology Driven Repair (HDR). NHEJ consists of a simple closure of the break and frequently leads to small insertion/deletion events. In contrast, HDR uses the presence of a donor DNA molecule sharing homology with the target DNA as a template for repair. Here, we present a sand fly embryo microinjection method for targeted mutagenesis by CRISPR/Cas9 using NHEJ, which is the only genome modification technique adapted to sand fly vectors to date.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9 / metabolism*
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems / genetics*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microinjections*
  • Microtechnology
  • Mutagenesis / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Needles
  • Phlebotomus / embryology*
  • Phlebotomus / genetics
  • Phlebotomus / immunology
  • Phlebotomus / parasitology


  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9