CRISPR/Cas9-induced disruption of Bodo saltans paraflagellar rod-2 gene reveals its importance for cell survival
Developing transfection protocols for marine protists is an emerging field that will allow the functional characterization of protist genes and their roles in organism responses to the environment. We developed a CRISPR/Cas9 editing protocol for Bodo saltans, a free-living kinetoplastid with tolerance to both marine and freshwater conditions, and a close non-parasitic relative of trypanosomatids. Our results show that SaCas9/sgRNA ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex-mediated disruption of the paraflagellar rod 2 gene (BsPFR2) was achieved using electroporation-mediated transfection. The use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing can increase the efficiency of targeted homologous recombination when a repair DNA template is provided. Based on sequence analysis, two mechanisms for repairing double-strand breaks (DSB) in B. saltans are active; homologous directed repair (HDR) utilizing an exogenous DNA template that carries an antibiotic resistance gene, and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). However, HDR was only achieved when a single (vs. multiple) SaCas9 RNP complex was provided. Further, the biallelic knockout of BsPFR2 was detrimental for the cell, highlighting its essential role for cell survival because it facilitates the movement of food particles into the cytostome. Our Cas9/sgRNA RNP complex protocol provides a new tool for assessing gene functions in B. saltans, and perhaps similar protists with polycistronic transcription. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.