EMBO reports

Organoid technologies meet genome engineering.

PMID 28202491


Three-dimensional (3D) stem cell differentiation cultures recently emerged as a novel model system for investigating human embryonic development and disease progression in vitro, complementing existing animal and two-dimensional (2D) cell culture models. Organoids, the 3D self-organizing structures derived from pluripotent or somatic stem cells, can recapitulate many aspects of structural organization and functionality of their in vivo organ counterparts, thus holding great promise for biomedical research and translational applications. Importantly, faithful recapitulation of disease and development processes relies on the ability to modify the genomic contents in organoid cells. The revolutionary genome engineering technologies, CRISPR/Cas9 in particular, enable investigators to generate various reporter cell lines for prompt validation of specific cell lineages as well as to introduce disease-associated mutations for disease modeling. In this review, we provide historical overviews, and discuss technical considerations, and potential future applications of genome engineering in 3D organoid models.