Developmental Biology


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0 Q&A 442 Views Aug 5, 2023

Generation of zebrafish (Danio rerio) models with targeted insertion of epitope tags and point mutations is highly desirable for functional genomics and disease modeling studies. Currently, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-in is the method of choice for insertion of exogeneous sequences by providing a repair template for homology-directed repair (HDR). A major hurdle in generating knock-in models is the labor and cost involved in screening of injected fish to identify the precise knock-in events due to low efficiency of the HDR pathway in zebrafish. Thus, we developed fluorescent PCR–based high-throughput screening methods for precise knock-in of epitope tags and point mutations in zebrafish. Here, we provide a step-by-step guide that describes selection of an active sgRNA near the intended knock-in site, design of single-stranded oligonucleotide (ssODN) templates for HDR, quick validation of somatic knock-in using injected embryos, and screening for germline transmission of precise knock-in events to establish stable lines. Our screening method relies on the size-based separation of all fragments in an amplicon by fluorescent PCR and capillary electrophoresis, thus providing a robust and cost-effective strategy. Although we present the use of this protocol for insertion of epitope tags and point mutations, it can be used for insertion of any small DNA fragments (e.g., LoxP sites, in-frame codons). Furthermore, the screening strategy described here can be used to screen for precise knock-in of small DNA sequences in any model system, as PCR amplification of the target region is its only requirement.

Key features

• This protocol expands the use of fluorescent PCR and CRISPR-STAT for screening of precise knock-in of small insertions and point mutations in zebrafish.

• Allows validation of selected sgRNA and HDR template within two weeks by somatic knock-in screening.

• Allows robust screening of point mutations by combining restriction digest with CRISPR-STAT.

Graphical overview

Overview of the three-phase knock-in pipeline in zebrafish (created with

1 Q&A 8458 Views Jul 20, 2021

Efficient precision genome engineering requires high frequency and specificity of integration at the genomic target site. Multiple design strategies for zebrafish gene targeting have previously been reported with widely varying frequencies for germline recovery of integration alleles. The GeneWeld protocol and pGTag (plasmids for Gene Tagging) vector series provide a set of resources to streamline precision gene targeting in zebrafish. Our approach uses short homology of 24-48 bp to drive targeted integration of DNA reporter cassettes by homology-mediated end joining (HMEJ) at a CRISPR/Cas induced DNA double-strand break. The pGTag vectors contain reporters flanked by a universal CRISPR sgRNA sequence to liberate the targeting cassette in vivo and expose homology arms for homology-driven integration. Germline transmission rates for precision-targeted integration alleles range 22-100%. Our system provides a streamlined, straightforward, and cost-effective approach for high-efficiency gene targeting applications in zebrafish.

Graphic Abstract:

GeneWeld method for CRISPR/Cas9 targeted integration.

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