CRISPR/Cas9; A robust technology for producing genetically engineered plants

Rimsha Farooq, Khadim Hussain, Shahid Nazir, Muhammad Rizwan Javed, Nazish Masood


CRISPR/Cas9 is a technology evolved from modified type II immune system of bacteria and archaea. Exploitation of this bacterial immune system in all eukaryotes including plants may lead to site-specific targeted genome engineering. Genome engineering is objectively utilized to express/silence a trait harbouring gene in the plant genome. In this review, different genetic engineering techniques including classical breeding, RNAi and genetic transformation and synthetic sequence-specific nucleases (zinc finger nucleases; ZFNs and transcription activator-like effector nuclease; TALENs) techniques have been described and compared with advanced genome editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, on the basis of their merits and drawbacks. This revolutionary genome engineering technology has edge over all other approaches because of its simplicity, stability, specificity of the target and multiple genes can be engineered at a time. CRISPR/Cas9 requires only Cas9 endonuclease and single guide RNA, which are directly delivered into plant cells via either vector-mediated stable transformation or transient delivery of ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) and generate double-strand breaks (DSBs) at target site. These DSBs are further repaired by cell endogenous repairing pathways via HDR or NHEJ. The major advantage of CRISPR/Cas9 system is that engineered plants are considered Non-GM; can be achieved using in vitro expressed RNPs transient delivery. Different variants of Cas9 genes cloned in different plasmid vectors can be used to achieve different objectives of genome editing including double-stranded DNA break, single-stranded break, activate/repress the gene expression. Fusion of Cas9 with fluorescent protein can lead to visualize the expression of the CRISPR/Cas9 system. The applications of this technology in plant genome editing to improve different plant traits are comprehensively described.


Plant genome editing; CRISPR/Cas9; ZFNs; TALENs: RNPs.

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