Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), CRISPR-associated gene 9 (Cas9) genome editing is set to revolutionize genetic manipulation of pathogens, including kinetoplastids. CRISPR technology provides the opportunity to develop scalable methods for highthroughput production of mutant phenotypes. Here, we report development of a CRISPR-Cas9 toolkit that allows rapid tagging and gene knockout in diverse kinetoplastid species without requiring the user to perform any DNA cloning. We developed a new protocol for single-guide RNA (sgRNA) delivery using PCR-generated DNA templates which are transcribed in vivo by T7 RNA polymerase and an online resource (LeishGEdit.net) for automated primer design. We produced a set of plasmids that allows easy and scalable generation of DNA constructs for transfections in just a few hours. We show how these tools allow knock-in of fluorescent protein tags, modified biotin ligase BirA*, luciferase, HaloTag and small epitope tags, which can be fused to proteins at the N- or C-terminus, for functional studies of proteins and localization screening. These tools enabled generation of null mutants in a single round of transfection in promastigote form Leishmania major, Leishmania mexicana and bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei; deleted genes were undetectable in non-clonal populations, enabling for the first time rapid and large-scale knockout screens.
- Genome editing
- T7 RNA polymerase