Loss-of-function approaches provide strong evidence for determining the role of particular genes. The prevalent CRISPR/Cas9 technique is widely used to disrupt target gene with uncontrolled non-homologous end joining after the double strand breaks, which results in mosaicism and multiple genotypes in the founders. In animal models with long generation time such as the salamanders, producing homozygous offspring mutants would be rather labor intensive and time consuming. Here we utilized the base editing technique to create the loss-of-function F0 mutants without the random indels. As a proof of principle, we successfully introduced premature stop codons into the tyrosinase
locus and produced the albino phenotype in the newts (Pleurodeles waltl
). We further demonstrated that the knockout efficiency could be greatly improved by using multiplex sgRNAs target the same gene. The F0 mutated animals showed fully loss-of-function by both genotyping and phenotyping analysis, which could enable direct functional analysis in the founders and avoid sophisticated breeding. This study not only presented the high efficiency of single base editing in a gigantic animal genome (>20 G), but also provided new tools for interrogating gene function in other salamander species.
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