Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

RELATe enables genome-scale engineering in fungal genomics

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Science Advances  18 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 38, eabb8783
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8783

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas9–based screening with single-guide RNA (sgRNA) libraries has emerged as a revolutionary tool for comprehensive analysis of genetic elements. However, genome-scale sgRNA libraries are currently available only in a few model organisms. The traditional approach is to synthesize thousands to tens of thousands of sgRNAs, which is laborious and expensive. We have developed a simple method, RELATe (restriction/ligation coupled with Agrobacterium-mediated transformation), to generate sgRNA libraries from 10 μg of genomic DNA, targeting over 98% of the protein-coding genes in the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Functional screens identified 142 potential C. neoformans genes contributing to blood-brain barrier penetration. We selected two cryptococcal genes, SFP1 and WDR1, for a proof-of-concept demonstration that RELATe-identified genes are relevant to C. neoformans central nervous system infection. Our RELATe method can be used in many other fungal species and is powerful and cost-effective for genome-wide high-throughput screening for elucidating functional genomics.

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