Efficient CRISPR-mediated gene targeting and transgene replacement in the beetle Tribolium castaneum.
Gene-editing techniques are revolutionizing the way we conduct genetics in many organisms. The CRISPR/Cas nuclease has emerged as a highly versatile, efficient and affordable tool for targeting chosen sites in the genome. Beyond its applications in established model organisms, CRISPR technology provides a platform for genetic intervention in a wide range of species, limited only by our ability to deliver it to cells and to select mutations efficiently. Here, we test the CRISPR technology in an emerging insect model and pest, the beetle Triboliumcastaneum. We use simple assays to test CRISPR/Cas activity, we demonstrate efficient expression of guide RNAs and Cas9 from Tribolium U6 and hsp68 promoters and we test the efficiency of knockout and knock-in approaches in Tribolium. We find that 55-80% of injected individuals carry mutations (indels) generated by non-homologous end joining, including mosaic bi-allelic knockouts; 71-100% carrysuch mutations in their germ line and transmit them to the next generation. We show that CRISPR-mediated gene knockout of the Tribolium E-cadherin gene causes defects in dorsal closure, which is consistent with RNAi-induced phenotypes. Homology-directed knock-in of marker transgenes was observed in 14% of injected individuals and transmitted to the next generation by 6% of injected individuals. Previous work in Tribolium mapped a large number of transgene insertions associated with developmental phenotypes and enhancer traps. We present an efficient method for re-purposing these insertions, via CRISPR-mediated replacement of these transgenes by new constructs.