Engineering a CRISPRoff Platform to Modulate Expression of Myeloid Cell Leukemia (MCL-1) in Committed Oligodendrocyte Neural Precursor Cells

Bio Protoc. 2024 Jan 5;14(1):e4913. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.4913.


In vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) model systems has furthered our understanding of human development. Techniques used to elucidate gene function during early development have encountered technical challenges, especially when targeting embryonic lethal genes. The introduction of CRISPRoff by Nuñez and collaborators provides an opportunity to heritably silence genes during long-term differentiation. We modified CRISPRoff and sgRNA Sleeping Beauty transposon vectors that depend on tetracycline-controlled transcriptional activation to silence the expression of embryonic lethal genes at different stages of differentiation in a stable manner. We provide instructions on how to generate sgRNA transposon vectors that can be used in combination with our CRISPRoff transposon vector and a stable hPSC line. We validate the use of this tool by silencing MCL-1, an anti-apoptotic protein, which results in pre-implantation embryonic lethality in mice; this protein is necessary for oligodendrocyte and hematopoietic stem cell development and is required for the in vitro survival of hPSCs. In this protocol, we use an adapted version of the differentiation protocol published by Douvaras and Fossati (2015) to generate oligodendrocyte lineage cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). After introduction of the CRISPRoff and sgRNAs transposon vectors in hESCs, we silence MCL-1 in committed oligodendrocyte neural precursor cells and describe methods to measure its expression. With the methods described here, users can design sgRNA transposon vectors targeting MCL-1 or other essential genes of interest to study human oligodendrocyte development or other differentiation protocols that use hPSC model systems. Key features • Generation of an inducible CRISPRoff Sleeping Beauty transposon system. • Experiments performed in vitro for generation of inducible CRISPRoff pluripotent stem cell line amenable to oligodendrocyte differentiation. • Strategy to downregulate an essential gene at different stages of oligodendrocyte development.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas; MCL-1; Oligodendrocyte precursor cells; Oligodendrocytes; Pluripotent stem cells; Sleeping Beauty.