Chromatin accessibility dynamics in a model of human forebrain development.
Science (New York, N.Y.)
2020; 367 (6476)
Forebrain development is characterized by highly synchronized cellular processes, which, if perturbed, can cause disease. To chart the regulatory activity underlying these events, we generated a map of accessible chromatin in human three-dimensional forebrain organoids. To capture corticogenesis, we sampled glial and neuronal lineages from dorsal or ventral forebrain organoids over 20 months in vitro. Active chromatin regions identified in human primary brain tissue were observed in organoids at different developmental stages. We used this resource to map genetic risk for disease and to explore evolutionary conservation. Moreover, we integrated chromatin accessibility with transcriptomics to identify putative enhancer-gene linkages and transcription factors that regulate human corticogenesis. Overall, this platform brings insights into gene-regulatory dynamics at previously inaccessible stages of human forebrain development, including signatures of neuropsychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aay1645
View details for PubMedID 31974223
Mitigation of off-target toxicity in CRISPR-Cas9 screens for essential non-coding elements.
2019; 10 (1): 4063
Pooled CRISPR-Cas9 screens are a powerful method for functionally characterizing regulatory elements in the non-coding genome, but off-target effects in these experiments have not been systematically evaluated. Here, we investigate Cas9, dCas9, and CRISPRi/a off-target activity in screens for essential regulatory elements. The sgRNAs with the largest effects in genome-scale screens for essential CTCF loop anchors in K562 cells were not single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) that disrupted gene expression near the on-target CTCF anchor. Rather, these sgRNAs had high off-target activity that, while only weakly correlated with absolute off-target site number, could be predicted by the recently developed GuideScan specificity score. Screens conducted in parallel with CRISPRi/a, which do not induce double-stranded DNA breaks, revealed that a distinct set of off-targets also cause strong confounding fitness effects with these epigenome-editing tools. Promisingly, filtering of CRISPRi libraries using GuideScan specificity scores removed these confounded sgRNAs and enabled identification of essential regulatory elements.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-019-11955-7
View details for PubMedID 31492858
An improved ATAC-seq protocol reduces background and enables interrogation of frozen tissues.
We present Omni-ATAC, an improved ATAC-seq protocol for chromatin accessibility profiling that works across multiple applications with substantial improvement of signal-to-background ratio and information content. The Omni-ATAC protocol generates chromatin accessibility profiles from archival frozen tissue samples and 50-μm sections, revealing the activities of disease-associated DNA elements in distinct human brain structures. The Omni-ATAC protocol enables the interrogation of personal regulomes in tissue context and translational studies.
View details for PubMedID 28846090
Genome-scale transcriptional activation by an engineered CRISPR-Cas9 complex
2015; 517 (7536): 583-U332
Systematic interrogation of gene function requires the ability to perturb gene expression in a robust and generalizable manner. Here we describe structure-guided engineering of a CRISPR-Cas9 complex to mediate efficient transcriptional activation at endogenous genomic loci. We used these engineered Cas9 activation complexes to investigate single-guide RNA (sgRNA) targeting rules for effective transcriptional activation, to demonstrate multiplexed activation of ten genes simultaneously, and to upregulate long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) transcripts. We also synthesized a library consisting of 70,290 guides targeting all human RefSeq coding isoforms to screen for genes that, upon activation, confer resistance to a BRAF inhibitor. The top hits included genes previously shown to be able to confer resistance, and novel candidates were validated using individual sgRNA and complementary DNA overexpression. A gene expression signature based on the top screening hits correlated with markers of BRAF inhibitor resistance in cell lines and patient-derived samples. These results collectively demonstrate the potential of Cas9-based activators as a powerful genetic perturbation technology.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14136
View details for Web of Science ID 000348775000036
View details for PubMedID 25494202
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4420636
Genome-wide binding of the CRISPR endonuclease Cas9 in mammalian cells.
2014; 32 (7): 670–76
Bacterial type II CRISPR-Cas9 systems have been widely adapted for RNA-guided genome editing and transcription regulation in eukaryotic cells, yet their in vivo target specificity is poorly understood. Here we mapped genome-wide binding sites of a catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) from Streptococcus pyogenes loaded with single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Each of the four sgRNAs we tested targets dCas9 to between tens and thousands of genomic sites, frequently characterized by a 5-nucleotide seed region in the sgRNA and an NGG protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). Chromatin inaccessibility decreases dCas9 binding to other sites with matching seed sequences; thus 70% of off-target sites are associated with genes. Targeted sequencing of 295 dCas9 binding sites in mESCs transfected with catalytically active Cas9 identified only one site mutated above background levels. We propose a two-state model for Cas9 binding and cleavage, in which a seed match triggers binding but extensive pairing with target DNA is required for cleavage.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2889
View details for PubMedID 24752079
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4145672
Genome editing using Cas9 nickases.
Methods in enzymology
2014; 546: 161-174
The RNA-guided, sequence-specific endonuclease Cas9 has been widely adopted as genome engineering tool due to its efficiency and ease of use. Derived from the microbial CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) type II adaptive immune system, Cas9 has now been successfully engineered for genome editing applications in a variety of animal and plant species. To reduce potential off-target mutagenesis by wild-type Cas9, homology- and structure-guided mutagenesis of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 catalytic domains has produced "nicking" enzymes (Cas9n) capable of inducing single-strand nicks rather than double-strand breaks. Since nicks are generally repaired with high fidelity in eukaryotic cells, Cas9n can be leveraged to mediate highly specific genome editing, either via nonhomologous end-joining or homology-directed repair. Here we describe the preparation, testing, and application of Cas9n reagents for precision mammalian genome engineering.
View details for DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-801185-0.00008-8
View details for PubMedID 25398340
Double nicking by RNA-guided CRISPR Cas9 for enhanced genome editing specificity.
2013; 154 (6): 1380–89
Targeted genome editing technologies have enabled a broad range of research and medical applications. The Cas9 nuclease from the microbial CRISPR-Cas system is targeted to specific genomic loci by a 20 nt guide sequence, which can tolerate certain mismatches to the DNA target and thereby promote undesired off-target mutagenesis. Here, we describe an approach that combines a Cas9 nickase mutant with paired guide RNAs to introduce targeted double-strand breaks. Because individual nicks in the genome are repaired with high fidelity, simultaneous nicking via appropriately offset guide RNAs is required for double-stranded breaks and extends the number of specifically recognized bases for target cleavage. We demonstrate that using paired nicking can reduce off-target activity by 50- to 1,500-fold in cell lines and to facilitate gene knockout in mouse zygotes without sacrificing on-target cleavage efficiency. This versatile strategy enables a wide variety of genome editing applications that require high specificity.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2013.08.021
View details for PubMedID 23992846
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3856256
Optical control of mammalian endogenous transcription and epigenetic states.
2013; 500 (7463): 472–76
The dynamic nature of gene expression enables cellular programming, homeostasis and environmental adaptation in living systems. Dissection of causal gene functions in cellular and organismal processes therefore necessitates approaches that enable spatially and temporally precise modulation of gene expression. Recently, a variety of microbial and plant-derived light-sensitive proteins have been engineered as optogenetic actuators, enabling high-precision spatiotemporal control of many cellular functions. However, versatile and robust technologies that enable optical modulation of transcription in the mammalian endogenous genome remain elusive. Here we describe the development of light-inducible transcriptional effectors (LITEs), an optogenetic two-hybrid system integrating the customizable TALE DNA-binding domain with the light-sensitive cryptochrome 2 protein and its interacting partner CIB1 from Arabidopsis thaliana. LITEs do not require additional exogenous chemical cofactors, are easily customized to target many endogenous genomic loci, and can be activated within minutes with reversibility. LITEs can be packaged into viral vectors and genetically targeted to probe specific cell populations. We have applied this system in primary mouse neurons, as well as in the brain of freely behaving mice in vivo to mediate reversible modulation of mammalian endogenous gene expression as well as targeted epigenetic chromatin modifications. The LITE system establishes a novel mode of optogenetic control of endogenous cellular processes and enables direct testing of the causal roles of genetic and epigenetic regulation in normal biological processes and disease states.
View details for PubMedID 23877069
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3856241