Tuesday, July 04, 2017

QTL Mapping and CRISPR/Cas9 Editing to Identify a Drug Resistance Gene in Toxoplasma gondii

 2017 Jun 22;(124). doi: 10.3791/55185.


Scientific knowledge is intrinsically linked to available technologies and methods. This article will present two methods that allowed for the identification and verification of a drug resistance gene in the Apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, the method of Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) mapping using a Whole Genome Sequence (WGS) -based genetic map and the method of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 -based gene editing. The approach of QTL mapping allows one to test if there is a correlation between a genomic region(s) and a phenotype. Two datasets are required to run a QTL scan, a genetic map based on the progeny of a recombinant cross and a quantifiable phenotype assessed in each of the progeny of that cross. These datasets are then formatted to be compatible with R/qtl software that generates a QTL scan to identify significant loci correlated with the phenotype. Although this can greatly narrow the search window of possible candidates, QTLs span regions containing a number of genes from which the causal gene needs to be identified. Having WGS of the progeny was critical to identify the causal drug resistance mutation at the gene level. Once identified, the candidate mutation can be verified by genetic manipulation of drug sensitive parasites. The most facile and efficient method to genetically modify T. gondii is the CRISPR/Cas9 system. This system comprised of just 2 components both encoded on a single plasmid, a single guide RNA (gRNA) containing a 20 bp sequence complementary to the genomic target and the Cas9 endonuclease that generates a double-strand DNA break (DSB) at the target, repair of which allows for insertion or deletion of sequences around the break site. This article provides detailed protocols to use CRISPR/Cas9 based genome editing tools to verify the gene responsible for sinefungin resistance and to construct transgenic parasites.

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