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EMBO reports

CRISPR/Cas9-induced disruption of gene expression in mouse embryonic brain and single neural stem cells in vivo.


PMID 26758805

Abstract

We have applied the CRISPR/Cas9 system in vivo to disrupt gene expression in neural stem cells in the developing mammalian brain. Two days after in utero electroporation of a single plasmid encoding Cas9 and an appropriate guide RNA (gRNA) into the embryonic neocortex of Tis21::GFP knock-in mice, expression of GFP, which occurs specifically in neural stem cells committed to neurogenesis, was found to be nearly completely (≈ 90%) abolished in the progeny of the targeted cells. Importantly, upon in utero electroporation directly of recombinant Cas9/gRNA complex, near-maximal efficiency of disruption of GFP expression was achieved already after 24 h. Furthermore, by using microinjection of the Cas9 protein/gRNA complex into neural stem cells in organotypic slice culture, we obtained disruption of GFP expression within a single cell cycle. Finally, we used either Cas9 plasmid in utero electroporation or Cas9 protein complex microinjection to disrupt the expression of Eomes/Tbr2, a gene fundamental for neocortical neurogenesis. This resulted in a reduction in basal progenitors and an increase in neuronal differentiation. Thus, the present in vivo application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in neural stem cells provides a rapid, efficient and enduring disruption of expression of specific genes to dissect their role in mammalian brain development.