Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems are key immune mechanisms helping prokaryotic species fend off RNA and DNA viruses. CRISPR/Cas9 has broad applications in basic research and biotechnology and has been widely used across eukaryotic species for genome engineering and functional analysis of genes. The recently developed CRISPR/Cas13 systems target RNA rather than DNA and thus offer new potential for transcriptome engineering and combatting RNA viruses. Here, we used CRISPR/LshCas13a to stably engineer Arabidopsis thaliana
for interference against the RNA genome of Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV). Our data demonstrate that CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) guiding Cas13a to the sequences encoding helper component proteinase silencing suppressor (HC-Pro) or GFP target 2 (GFP-T2) provide better interference compared to crRNAs targeting other regions of the TuMV RNA genome. This work demonstrates the exciting potential of CRISPR/Cas13 to be used as an antiviral strategy to obstruct RNA viruses, and encourages the search for more robust and effective Cas13 variants or CRISPR systems that can target RNA.
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