The Cas13a-based multiplex RNA targeting system can be engineered to confer resistance to RNA viruses, whereas the number and expression levels of gRNAs have no significant effect on viral interference. The CRISPR-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity to bacterial and archaeal species against invading phages and foreign plasmids. The class 2 type VI CRISPR/Cas effector Cas13a has been harnessed to confer the protection against RNA viruses in diverse eukaryotic species. However, whether the number and expression levels of guide RNAs (gRNAs) have effects on the efficiency of RNA virus inhibition is unknown. Here, we repurpose CRISPR/Cas13a in combination with an endogenous tRNA-processing system (polycistronic tRNA-gRNA) to target four genes of potato virus Y (PVY) with varying expression levels. We expressed Cas13a and four different gRNAs in potato lines, and the transgenic plants expressing multiple gRNAs displayed similar suppression of PVY accumulation and reduced disease symptoms as those expressing a single gRNA. Moreover, PTG/Cas13a-transformed plants with different expression levels of multiple gRNAs displayed similar resistance to PVY strains. Collectively, this study suggests that the Cas13a-based multiplex RNA targeting system can be utilized to engineer resistance to RNA viruses in plants, whereas the number and expression levels of gRNAs have no significant effect on CRISPR/Cas13a-mediated viral interference in plants.
Keywords: Cas13a; Guide RNA; Multiplex RNA targeting; Potato virus Y; Resistance.
© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.