DOI: 10.7554/elife.86903.3 ISSN: 2050-084X

A randomized multiplex CRISPRi-Seq approach for the identification of critical combinations of genes

Nicole A Ellis, Kevin S Myers, Jessica Tung, Anne Davidson Ward, Kathryn Johnston, Katherine E Bonnington, Timothy J Donohue, Matthias P Machner
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience

Identifying virulence-critical genes from pathogens is often limited by functional redundancy. To rapidly interrogate the contributions of combinations of genes to a biological outcome, we have developed a

equencing (MuRCiS) approach. At its center is a new method for the randomized self-assembly of CRISPR arrays from synthetic oligonucleotide pairs. When paired with PacBio long-read sequencing, MuRCiS allowed for near-comprehensive interrogation of all pairwise combinations of a group of 44 Legionella pneumophila virulence genes encoding highly conserved transmembrane proteins for their role in pathogenesis. Both amoeba and human macrophages were challenged with L. pneumophila bearing the pooled CRISPR array libraries, leading to the identification of several new virulence-critical combinations of genes. lpg2888 and lpg3000 were particularly fascinating for their apparent redundant functions during L. pneumophila human macrophage infection, while lpg3000 alone was essential for L. pneumophila virulence in the amoeban host Acanthamoeba castellanii. Thus, MuRCiS provides a method for rapid genetic examination of even large groups of redundant genes, setting the stage for application of this technology to a variety of biological contexts and organisms.

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