Precision genome-editing with CRISPR/Cas9 in human induced pluripotent stem cells
Genome engineering in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) represent an opportunity to examine the contribution of pathogenic and disease modifying alleles to molecular and cellular phenotypes. However, the practical application of genome-editing approaches in human iPSCs has been challenging. We have developed a precise and efficient genome-editing platform that relies on allele-specific guideRNAs (gRNAs) paired with a robust method for culturing and screening the modified iPSC clones. By applying an allele-specific gRNA design strategy, we have demonstrated greatly improved editing efficiency without the introduction of additional modifications of unknown consequence in the genome. Using this approach, we have modified nine independent iPSC lines at five loci associated with neurodegeneration. This genome-editing platform allows for efficient and precise production of isogenic cell lines for disease modeling. Because the impact of CRISPR/Cas9 on off-target sites remains poorly understood, we went on to perform thorough off-target profiling by comparing the mutational burden in edited iPSC lines using whole genome sequencing. The bioinformatically predicted off-target sites were unmodified in all edited iPSC lines. We also found that the numbers of de novo genetic variants detected in the edited and unedited iPSC lines were similar. Thus, our CRISPR/Cas9 strategy does not specifically increase the mutational burden. Furthermore, our analyses of the de novo genetic variants that occur during iPSC culture and genome-editing indicate an enrichment of de novo variants at sites identified in dbSNP. Taken together, we propose that this enrichment represents regions of the genome more susceptible to mutation. Herein, we present an efficient and precise method for allele-specific genome-editing in iPSC and an analyses pipeline to distinguish off-target events from de novo mutations occurring with culture.