Publications by authors named "Valentino M Gantz"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Optimized CRISPR tools and site-directed transgenesis towards gene drive development in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes.

Nat Commun 2021 05 20;12(1):2960. Epub 2021 May 20.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Culex mosquitoes are a global vector for multiple human and animal diseases, including West Nile virus, lymphatic filariasis, and avian malaria, posing a constant threat to public health, livestock, companion animals, and endangered birds. While rising insecticide resistance has threatened the control of Culex mosquitoes, advances in CRISPR genome-editing tools have fostered the development of alternative genetic strategies such as gene drive systems to fight disease vectors. However, though gene-drive technology has quickly progressed in other mosquitoes, advances have been lacking in Culex. Here, we develop a Culex-specific Cas9/gRNA expression toolkit and use site-directed homology-based transgenesis to generate and validate a Culex quinquefasciatus Cas9-expressing line. We show that gRNA scaffold variants improve transgenesis efficiency in both Culex quinquefasciatus and Drosophila melanogaster and boost gene-drive performance in the fruit fly. These findings support future technology development to control Culex mosquitoes and provide valuable insight for improving these tools in other species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23239-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8137705PMC
May 2021

CopyCatchers are versatile active genetic elements that detect and quantify inter-homolog somatic gene conversion.

Nat Commun 2021 05 11;12(1):2625. Epub 2021 May 11.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

CRISPR-based active genetic elements, or gene-drives, copied via homology-directed repair (HDR) in the germline, are transmitted to progeny at super-Mendelian frequencies. Active genetic elements also can generate widespread somatic mutations, but the genetic basis for such phenotypes remains uncertain. It is generally assumed that such somatic mutations are generated by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), the predominant double stranded break repair pathway active in somatic cells. Here, we develop CopyCatcher systems in Drosophila to detect and quantify somatic gene conversion (SGC) events. CopyCatchers inserted into two independent genetic loci reveal unexpectedly high rates of SGC in the Drosophila eye and thoracic epidermis. Focused RNAi-based genetic screens identify several unanticipated loci altering SGC efficiency, one of which (c-MYC), when downregulated, promotes SGC mediated by both plasmid and homologous chromosome-templates in human HEK293T cells. Collectively, these studies suggest that CopyCatchers can serve as effective discovery platforms to inform potential gene therapy strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22927-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8113449PMC
May 2021

Efficient population modification gene-drive rescue system in the malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi.

Nat Commun 2020 11 3;11(1):5553. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697-3900, USA.

Cas9/gRNA-mediated gene-drive systems have advanced development of genetic technologies for controlling vector-borne pathogen transmission. These technologies include population suppression approaches, genetic analogs of insecticidal techniques that reduce the number of insect vectors, and population modification (replacement/alteration) approaches, which interfere with competence to transmit pathogens. Here, we develop a recoded gene-drive rescue system for population modification of the malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi, that relieves the load in females caused by integration of the drive into the kynurenine hydroxylase gene by rescuing its function. Non-functional resistant alleles are eliminated via a dominantly-acting maternal effect combined with slower-acting standard negative selection, and rare functional resistant alleles do not prevent drive invasion. Small cage trials show that single releases of gene-drive males robustly result in efficient population modification with ≥95% of mosquitoes carrying the drive within 5-11 generations over a range of initial release ratios.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19426-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7609566PMC
November 2020

Active Genetic Neutralizing Elements for Halting or Deleting Gene Drives.

Mol Cell 2020 10 18;80(2):246-262.e4. Epub 2020 Sep 18.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA; Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA. Electronic address:

CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive systems possess the inherent capacity to spread progressively throughout target populations. Here we describe two self-copying (or active) guide RNA-only genetic elements, called e-CHACRs and ERACRs. These elements use Cas9 produced in trans by a gene drive either to inactivate the cas9 transgene (e-CHACRs) or to delete and replace the gene drive (ERACRs). e-CHACRs can be inserted at various genomic locations and carry two or more gRNAs, the first copying the e-CHACR and the second mutating and inactivating the cas9 transgene. Alternatively, ERACRs are inserted at the same genomic location as a gene drive, carrying two gRNAs that cut on either side of the gene drive to excise it. e-CHACRs efficiently inactivate Cas9 and can drive to completion in cage experiments. Similarly, ERACRs, particularly those carrying a recoded cDNA-restoring endogenous gene activity, can drive reliably to fully replace a gene drive. We compare the strengths of these two systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2020.09.003DOI Listing
October 2020

Small-Molecule Control of Super-Mendelian Inheritance in Gene Drives.

Cell Rep 2020 06;31(13):107841

Chemical Biology and Therapeutics Science, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA; Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Divisions of Renal Medicine and Engineering, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:

Synthetic CRISPR-based gene-drive systems have tremendous potential in public health and agriculture, such as for fighting vector-borne diseases or suppressing crop pest populations. These elements can rapidly spread in a population by breaching the inheritance limit of 50% dictated by Mendel's law of gene segregation, making them a promising tool for population engineering. However, current technologies lack control over their propagation capacity, and there are important concerns about potential unchecked spreading. Here, we describe a gene-drive system in Drosophila that generates an analog inheritance output that can be tightly and conditionally controlled to between 50% and 100%. This technology uses a modified SpCas9 that responds to a synthetic, orally available small molecule, fine-tuning the inheritance probability. This system opens a new avenue to feasibility studies for spatial and temporal control of gene drives using small molecules.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7587219PMC
June 2020

A transcomplementing gene drive provides a flexible platform for laboratory investigation and potential field deployment.

Nat Commun 2020 01 17;11(1):352. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.

CRISPR-based gene drives can spread through wild populations by biasing their own transmission above the 50% value predicted by Mendelian inheritance. These technologies offer population-engineering solutions for combating vector-borne diseases, managing crop pests, and supporting ecosystem conservation efforts. Current technologies raise safety concerns for unintended gene propagation. Herein, we address such concerns by splitting the drive components, Cas9 and gRNAs, into separate alleles to form a trans-complementing split-gene-drive (tGD) and demonstrate its ability to promote super-Mendelian inheritance of the separate transgenes. This dual-component configuration allows for combinatorial transgene optimization and increases safety by restricting escape concerns to experimentation windows. We employ the tGD and a small-molecule-controlled version to investigate the biology of component inheritance and resistant allele formation, and to study the effects of maternal inheritance and impaired homology on efficiency. Lastly, mathematical modeling of tGD spread within populations reveals potential advantages for improving current gene-drive technologies for field population modification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13977-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6969112PMC
January 2020

Author Correction: Super-Mendelian inheritance mediated by CRISPR-Cas9 in the female mouse germline.

Nature 2020 01;577(7792):E8

Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

An Amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1861-4DOI Listing
January 2020

Assessment of a Split Homing Based Gene Drive for Efficient Knockout of Multiple Genes.

G3 (Bethesda) 2020 02 6;10(2):827-837. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology and

Homing based gene drives (HGD) possess the potential to spread linked cargo genes into natural populations and are poised to revolutionize population control of animals. Given that host encoded genes have been identified that are important for pathogen transmission, targeting these genes using guide RNAs as cargo genes linked to drives may provide a robust method to prevent disease transmission. However, effectiveness of the inclusion of additional guide RNAs that target separate genes has not been thoroughly explored. To test this approach, we generated a split-HGD in that encoded a drive linked effector consisting of a second gRNA engineered to target a separate host-encoded gene, which we term a gRNA-mediated effector (GME). This design enabled us to assess homing and knockout efficiencies of two target genes simultaneously, and also explore the timing and tissue specificity of Cas9 expression on cleavage/homing rates. We demonstrate that inclusion of a GME can result in high efficiency of disruption of both genes during super-Mendelian propagation of split-HGD. Furthermore, both genes were knocked out one generation earlier than expected indicating the robust somatic expression of Cas9 driven by germline-limited promoters. We also assess the efficiency of 'shadow drive' generated by maternally deposited Cas9 protein and accumulation of drive-induced resistance alleles along multiple generations, and discuss design principles of HGD that could mitigate the accumulation of resistance alleles while incorporating a GME.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/g3.119.400985DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7003086PMC
February 2020

Efficient allelic-drive in Drosophila.

Nat Commun 2019 04 9;10(1):1640. Epub 2019 Apr 9.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA, 92093-0335, USA.

Gene-drive systems developed in several organisms result in super-Mendelian inheritance of transgenic insertions. Here, we generalize this "active genetic" approach to preferentially transmit allelic variants (allelic-drive) resulting from only a single or a few nucleotide alterations. We test two configurations for allelic-drive: one, copy-cutting, in which a non-preferred allele is selectively targeted for Cas9/guide RNA (gRNA) cleavage, and a more general approach, copy-grafting, that permits selective inheritance of a desired allele located in close proximity to the gRNA cut site. We also characterize a phenomenon we refer to as lethal-mosaicism that dominantly eliminates NHEJ-induced mutations and favors inheritance of functional cleavage-resistant alleles. These two efficient allelic-drive methods, enhanced by lethal mosaicism and a trans-generational drive process we refer to as "shadow-drive", have broad practical applications in improving health and agriculture and greatly extend the active genetics toolbox.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09694-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6456580PMC
April 2019

Super-Mendelian inheritance mediated by CRISPR-Cas9 in the female mouse germline.

Nature 2019 02 23;566(7742):105-109. Epub 2019 Jan 23.

Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

A gene drive biases the transmission of one of the two copies of a gene such that it is inherited more frequently than by random segregation. Highly efficient gene drive systems have recently been developed in insects, which leverage the sequence-targeted DNA cleavage activity of CRISPR-Cas9 and endogenous homology-directed repair mechanisms to convert heterozygous genotypes to homozygosity. If implemented in laboratory rodents, similar systems would enable the rapid assembly of currently impractical genotypes that involve multiple homozygous genes (for example, to model multigenic human diseases). To our knowledge, however, such a system has not yet been demonstrated in mammals. Here we use an active genetic element that encodes a guide RNA, which is embedded in the mouse tyrosinase (Tyr) gene, to evaluate whether targeted gene conversion can occur when CRISPR-Cas9 is active in the early embryo or in the developing germline. Although Cas9 efficiently induces double-stranded DNA breaks in the early embryo and male germline, these breaks are not corrected by homology-directed repair. By contrast, Cas9 expression limited to the female germline induces double-stranded breaks that are corrected by homology-directed repair, which copies the active genetic element from the donor to the receiver chromosome and increases its rate of inheritance in the next generation. These results demonstrate the feasibility of CRISPR-Cas9-mediated systems that bias inheritance of desired alleles in mice and that have the potential to transform the use of rodent models in basic and biomedical research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-0875-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367021PMC
February 2019

Gene editing technologies and applications for insects.

Curr Opin Insect Sci 2018 08 22;28:66-72. Epub 2018 May 22.

Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92092, USA; Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. Electronic address:

Initially discovered in bacteria, CRISPR-based genome editing endonucleases have proven remarkably amenable for adaptation to insects. To date, these endonucleases have been utilized in a plethora of both model and non-model insects including diverse flies, bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers, to name a few, thereby revolutionizing functional genomics of insects. In addition to basic genome editing, they have also been invaluable for advanced genome engineering and synthetic biology applications. Here we explore the recent genome editing advancements in insects for generating site-specific genomic mutations, insertions, deletions, as well as more advanced applications such as Homology Assisted Genome Knock-in (HACK), potential to utilize DNA base editing, generating predictable reciprocal chromosomal translocations, and development gene drives to control the fate of wild populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2018.05.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296244PMC
August 2018

The dawn of active genetics.

Bioessays 2016 Jan 10;38(1):50-63. Epub 2015 Dec 10.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

On December 18, 2014, a yellow female fly quietly emerged from her pupal case. What made her unique was that she had only one parent carrying a mutant allele of this classic recessive locus. Then, one generation later, after mating with a wild-type male, all her offspring displayed the same recessive yellow phenotype. Further analysis of other such yellow females revealed that the construct causing the mutation was converting the opposing chromosome with 95% efficiency. These simple results, seen also in mosquitoes and yeast, open the door to a new era of genetics wherein the laws of traditional Mendelian inheritance can be bypassed for a broad variety of purposes. Here, we consider the implications of this fundamentally new form of "active genetics," its applications for gene drives, reversal and amplification strategies, its potential for contributing to cell and gene therapy strategies, and ethical/biosafety considerations associated with such active genetic elements. Also watch the Video Abstract.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bies.201500102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819344PMC
January 2016

Highly efficient Cas9-mediated gene drive for population modification of the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Dec 23;112(49):E6736-43. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3900; Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4500

Genetic engineering technologies can be used both to create transgenic mosquitoes carrying antipathogen effector genes targeting human malaria parasites and to generate gene-drive systems capable of introgressing the genes throughout wild vector populations. We developed a highly effective autonomous Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9)-mediated gene-drive system in the Asian malaria vector Anopheles stephensi, adapted from the mutagenic chain reaction (MCR). This specific system results in progeny of males and females derived from transgenic males exhibiting a high frequency of germ-line gene conversion consistent with homology-directed repair (HDR). This system copies an ∼ 17-kb construct from its site of insertion to its homologous chromosome in a faithful, site-specific manner. Dual anti-Plasmodium falciparum effector genes, a marker gene, and the autonomous gene-drive components are introgressed into ∼ 99.5% of the progeny following outcrosses of transgenic lines to wild-type mosquitoes. The effector genes remain transcriptionally inducible upon blood feeding. In contrast to the efficient conversion in individuals expressing Cas9 only in the germ line, males and females derived from transgenic females, which are expected to have drive component molecules in the egg, produce progeny with a high frequency of mutations in the targeted genome sequence, resulting in near-Mendelian inheritance ratios of the transgene. Such mutant alleles result presumably from nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) events before the segregation of somatic and germ-line lineages early in development. These data support the design of this system to be active strictly within the germ line. Strains based on this technology could sustain control and elimination as part of the malaria eradication agenda.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1521077112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4679060PMC
December 2015

Genome editing. The mutagenic chain reaction: a method for converting heterozygous to homozygous mutations.

Science 2015 Apr 19;348(6233):442-4. Epub 2015 Mar 19.

Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92095, USA.

An organism with a single recessive loss-of-function allele will typically have a wild-type phenotype, whereas individuals homozygous for two copies of the allele will display a mutant phenotype. We have developed a method called the mutagenic chain reaction (MCR), which is based on the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing system for generating autocatalytic mutations, to produce homozygous loss-of-function mutations. In Drosophila, we found that MCR mutations efficiently spread from their chromosome of origin to the homologous chromosome, thereby converting heterozygous mutations to homozygosity in the vast majority of somatic and germline cells. MCR technology should have broad applications in diverse organisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa5945DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687737PMC
April 2015