Methods (San Diego, Calif.)

Towards mastering CRISPR-induced gene knock-in in plants: Survey of key features and focus on the model Physcomitrella patens.

PMID 28478103


Beyond its predominant role in human and animal therapy, the CRISPR-Cas9 system has also become an essential tool for plant research and plant breeding. Agronomic applications rely on the mastery of gene inactivation and gene modification. However, if the knock-out of genes by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ)-mediated repair of the targeted double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by the CRISPR-Cas9 system is rather well mastered, the knock-in of genes by homology-driven repair or end-joining remains difficult to perform efficiently in higher plants. In this review, we describe the different approaches that can be tested to improve the efficiency of CRISPR-induced gene modification in plants, which include the use of optimal transformation and regeneration protocols, the design of appropriate guide RNAs and donor templates and the choice of nucleases and means of delivery. We also present what can be done to orient DNA repair pathways in the target cells, and we show how the moss Physcomitrella patens can be used as a model plant to better understand what DNA repair mechanisms are involved, and how this knowledge could eventually be used to define more performant strategies of CRISPR-induced gene knock-in.