Precise and efficient insertion of large DNA fragments into somatic cells using gene editing technologies to label or modify endogenous proteins remains challenging. Non-specific insertions/deletions (INDELs) resulting from the non-homologous end joining pathway make the process error-prone. Further, the insert is not readily removable. Here, we describe a method called CRISPR-mediated insertion of exon (CRISPIE) that can precisely and reversibly label endogenous proteins using CRISPR/Cas9-based editing. CRISPIE inserts a designer donor module, which consists of an exon encoding the protein sequence flanked by intron sequences, into an intronic location in the target gene. INDELs at the insertion junction will be spliced out, leaving mRNAs nearly error-free. We used CRISPIE to fluorescently label endogenous proteins in mammalian neurons in vivo with previously unachieved efficiency. We demonstrate that this method is broadly applicable, and that the insert can be readily removed later. CRISPIE permits protein sequence insertion with high fidelity, efficiency, and flexibility.
All data are included in the manuscript and supporting source data files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.
- Haining Zhong
- Tianyi Mao
- Tianyi Mao
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animal handling and experimental protocols were performed in accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health and were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of the Oregon Health & Science University (#IS00002792).
- Kang Shen, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, United States
© 2021, Zhong et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Activating mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) cause Parkinson’s disease. LRRK2 phosphorylates a subset of Rab GTPases, particularly Rab10 and Rab8A, and we showed previously that these phosphoRabs play an important role in LRRK2 membrane recruitment and activation (Vides et al., 2022). To learn more about LRRK2 pathway regulation, we carried out an unbiased, CRISPR-based genome-wide screen to identify modifiers of cellular phosphoRab10 levels. A flow cytometry assay was developed to detect changes in phosphoRab10 levels in pools of mouse NIH-3T3 cells harboring unique CRISPR guide sequences. Multiple negative and positive regulators were identified; surprisingly, knockout of the Rab12 gene was especially effective in decreasing phosphoRab10 levels in multiple cell types and knockout mouse tissues. Rab-driven increases in phosphoRab10 were specific for Rab12, LRRK2-dependent and PPM1H phosphatase-reversible, and did not require Rab12 phosphorylation; they were seen with wild type and pathogenic G2019S and R1441C LRRK2. As expected for a protein that regulates LRRK2 activity, Rab12 also influenced primary cilia formation. AlphaFold modeling revealed a novel Rab12 binding site in the LRRK2 Armadillo domain, and we show that residues predicted to be essential for Rab12 interaction at this site influence phosphoRab10 and phosphoRab12 levels in a manner distinct from Rab29 activation of LRRK2. Our data show that Rab12 binding to a new site in the LRRK2 Armadillo domain activates LRRK2 kinase for Rab phosphorylation and could serve as a new therapeutic target for a novel class of LRRK2 inhibitors that do not target the kinase domain.
The MRTF–SRF pathway has been extensively studied for its crucial role in driving the expression of a large number of genes involved in actin cytoskeleton of various cell types. However, the specific contribution of MRTF–SRF in hair cells remains unknown. In this study, we showed that hair cell-specific deletion of Srf or Mrtfb, but not Mrtfa, leads to similar defects in the development of stereocilia dimensions and the maintenance of cuticular plate integrity. We used fluorescence-activated cell sorting-based hair cell RNA-Seq analysis to investigate the mechanistic underpinnings of the changes observed in Srf and Mrtfb mutants, respectively. Interestingly, the transcriptome analysis revealed distinct profiles of genes regulated by Srf and Mrtfb, suggesting different transcriptional regulation mechanisms of actin cytoskeleton activities mediated by Srf and Mrtfb. Exogenous delivery of calponin 2 using Adeno-associated virus transduction in Srf mutants partially rescued the impairments of stereocilia dimensions and the F-actin intensity of cuticular plate, suggesting the involvement of Cnn2, as an Srf downstream target, in regulating the hair bundle morphology and cuticular plate actin cytoskeleton organization. Our study uncovers, for the first time, the unexpected differential transcriptional regulation of actin cytoskeleton mediated by Srf and Mrtfb in hair cells, and also demonstrates the critical role of SRF–CNN2 in modulating actin dynamics of the stereocilia and cuticular plate, providing new insights into the molecular mechanism underlying hair cell development and maintenance.