Determining the Role of Maternally-Expressed Genes in Early Development with Maternal Crispants

J Vis Exp. 2021 Dec 21:(178):10.3791/63177. doi: 10.3791/63177.


Early development depends on a pool of maternal factors incorporated into the mature oocyte during oogenesis that perform all cellular functions necessary for development until zygotic genome activation. Typically, genetic targeting of these maternal factors requires an additional generation to identify maternal-effect phenotypes, hindering the ability to determine the role of maternally-expressed genes during development. The discovery of the biallelic editing capabilities of CRISPR-Cas9 has allowed screening of embryonic phenotypes in somatic tissues of injected embryos or "crispants," augmenting the understanding of the role zygotically-expressed genes play in developmental programs. This article describes a protocol that is an extension of the crispant method. In this method, the biallelic editing of germ cells allows for the isolation of a maternal-effect phenotype in a single generation, or "maternal crispants." Multiplexing guide RNAs to a single target promotes the efficient production of maternal crispants, while sequence analysis of maternal crispant haploids provides a simple method to corroborate genetic lesions that produce a maternal-effect phenotype. The use of maternal crispants supports the rapid identification of essential maternally-expressed genes, thus facilitating the understanding of early development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Genome
  • Germ Cells
  • Oogenesis
  • RNA, Guide, CRISPR-Cas Systems* / genetics
  • Zygote*


  • RNA, Guide, CRISPR-Cas Systems