Burger, A., Lindsay, H., Felker, A., Hess, C., Anders, C., Chiavacci, E., Zaugg, J., Weber, L.M., Catena, R., Jinek, M., Robinson, M.D., Mosimann, C. (2016) Maximizing mutagenesis with solubilized CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoprotein complexes. Development (Cambridge, England). 143(11):2025-37.
CRISPR-Cas9 enables efficient sequence-specific mutagenesis for creating somatic or germline mutants of model organisms. Key constraints in vivo remain the expression and delivery of active Cas9-guideRNA ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) with minimal toxicity, variable mutagenesis efficiencies depending on targeting sequence, and high mutation mosaicism. Here, we apply in vitro-assembled, fluorescent Cas9-sgRNA RNPs in solubilizing salt solution to achieve maximal mutagenesis efficiency in zebrafish embryos. MiSeq-based sequence analysis of targeted loci in individual embryos using CrispRVariants, a customized software tool for mutagenesis quantification and visualization, reveals efficient bi-allelic mutagenesis that reaches saturation at several tested gene loci. Such virtually complete mutagenesis exposes loss-of-function phenotypes for candidate genes in somatic mutant embryos for subsequent generation of stable germline mutants. We further show that targeting of non-coding elements in gene-regulatory regions using saturating mutagenesis uncovers functional control elements in transgenic reporters and endogenous genes in injected embryos. Our results establish that optimally solubilized, in vitro assembled fluorescent Cas9-sgRNA RNPs provide a reproducible reagent for direct and scalable loss-of-function studies and applications beyond zebrafish experiments that require maximal DNA cutting efficiency in vivo.