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Sci Rep 2018 Oct 9; 8(1):15028







Here, we describe an expansion of the typical DNA size limitations associated with CRISPR knock-in technology, more specifically, the physical extent to which mouse genomic DNA can be replaced with donor (in this case, human) DNA at an orthologous locus by zygotic injection. Driving our efforts was the desire to create a whole animal model that would replace 17 kilobase pairs (kbp) of the mouse Bcl2l11 gene with the corresponding 25-kbp segment of human BCL2L11, including a conditionally removable segment (2.9-kbp) of intron 2, a cryptic human exon immediately 3' of this, and a native human exon some 20 kbp downstream. Using two methods, we first carried out the replacement by employing a combination of bacterial artificial chromosome recombineering, classic embryonic stem cell (ESC) targeting, dual selection, and recombinase-driven cassette removal (ESC/Blastocyst Approach). Using a unique second method, we employed the same vector (devoid of its selectable marker cassettes), microinjecting it along with redundant single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) and Cas9 mRNA into mouse zygotes (CRISPR/Zygote Approach). In both instances, we were able to achieve humanization of Bcl2l11 to the extent designed, remove all selection cassettes, and demonstrate the functionality of the conditionally removable, loxP-flanked, 2.9-kbp intronic segment.


The authors thank the staff of The Jackson Laboratory’s Scientific Research Services in both the Genetic Engineering Technologies and Reproductive Sciences groups. The authors thank Dr. Narayanan Raghupathy, The Jackson Laboratory, for assistance with statistical analyses. The authors thank Jennifer Cook and Louise Dionne for mouse colony management and Judy Morgan for logistical support, as well as Rachel Urban, Susan Kales, and Jiayuan Shi for their molecular biological expertise.

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