A method for simultaneous targeted mutagenesis of all nuclear rDNA repeats in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using CRISPR-Cas9
AbstractSaccharomyces cerevisiae has been the prime model to study the assembly and functionality of eukaryotic ribosomes. Within that vast landscape, the specific problem of mutagenizing all 150 nuclear rRNA genes was bypassed using strains whose chromosomal copies had been deleted and substituted by plasmid-borne rDNA. Work with these strains has produced important insights, but nucleolar structure is altered and such yeast-specific approaches are elaborate and not transferable to most other eukaryotes. We describe here a simple CRISPR-Cas9 based method to place targeted mutations in all 150 chromosomal rDNA repeats in yeast. The procedure per se is not expected to alter the nucleolus and is potentially applicable also to other eukaryotes. Yeast was transformed with a plasmid bearing the genes for Cas9 and for the guide RNA, engineered to target a site in the SSU region. Our mutagenesis plan included insertion of a spliceosomal intron in the normally intronless yeast nuclear rDNA. Despite the potential lethality of cutting all 150 rDNA repeats at the same time, yeast survived the Cas9 attack through inactivation of the cut sites either by point mutations or by inserting the intron, which was spliced out correctly from the rRNA transcript. In each mutant strain the same mutation was present in all rDNA repeats and was stably inherited even after removal of the Cas9 plasmid.
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