Whole-genome sequencing reveals rare off-target mutations

This study is about  CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system is a powerful tool for targeted genome editing, with applications that include plant biotechnology and functional genomics research. However, the specificity of Cas9 targeting is poorly investigated in many plant species, including fruit trees. To assess the off-target mutation rate in grapevine (Vitis vinifera), we performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of seven Cas9-edited grapevine plants in which one of two genes was targeted by CRISPR/Cas9 and three wild-type (WT) plants.

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Fig: Schematic diagram of on-target and off-target analysis by whole-genome sequencing.

In total, we identified between 202,008 and 272,397 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and between 26,391 and 55,414 insertions/deletions (indels) in the seven Cas9-edited grapevine plants compared with the three WT plants. Subsequently, 3272 potential off-target sites were selected for further analysis. Only one off-target indel mutation was identified from the WGS data and validated by Sanger sequencing. In addition, we found 243 newly generated off-target sites caused by genetic variants between the Thompson Seedless cultivar and the grape reference genome (PN40024) but no true off-target mutations. In conclusion, we observed high specificity of CRISPR/Cas9 for genome editing of grapevine.

Wang, X., Tu, M., Wang, Y. et al. Whole-genome sequencing reveals rare off-target mutations in CRISPR/Cas9-edited grapevine. Hortic Res 8, 114 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00549-4

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