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Synthetic RNA Polymerase III Promoters Facilitate High-Efficiency CRISPR–Cas9-Mediated Genome Editing in Yarrowia lipolytica

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journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2016, 16:05 by Cory M. Schwartz, Murtaza Shabbir Hussain, Mark Blenner, Ian Wheeldon
The oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is a valuable microbial host for chemical production because it has a high capacity to synthesize, modify, and store intracellular lipids; however, rapid strain development has been hampered by the limited availability of genome engineering tools. We address this limitation by adapting the CRISPR–Cas9 system from Streptococcus pyogenes for markerless gene disruption and integration in Y. lipolytica. Single gene disruption efficiencies of 92% and higher were achieved when single guide RNAs (sgRNA) were transcribed with synthetic hybrid promoters that combine native RNA polymerase III (Pol III) promoters with tRNA. The Pol III–tRNA hybrid promoters exploit endogenous tRNA processing to produce mature sgRNA for Cas9 targeting. The highest efficiencies were achieved with a SCR1′–tRNAGly promoter and Y. lipolytica codon-optimized Cas9 expressed from a UAS1B8–TEF promoter. Cotransformation of the Cas9 and sgRNA expressing plasmid with a homologous recombination donor plasmid resulted in markerless homologous recombination efficiency of over 64%. Homologous recombination was observed in 100% of transformants when nonhomologous end joining was disrupted. The end result of these studies was the development of pCRISPRyl, a modular tool for markerless gene disruption and integration in Y. lipolytica.

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