Efficient gene disruption in diverse strains of toxoplasma gondii Using CRISPR/CAS9

Bang Shen, Kevin M. Brown, Tobie D. Lee, L. David Sibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii has become a model for studying the phylum Apicomplexa, in part due to the availability of excellent genetic tools. Although reverse genetic tools are available in a few widely utilized laboratory strains, they rely on special genetic backgrounds that are not easily implemented in natural isolates. Recent progress in modifying CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), a system of DNA recognition used as a defense mechanism in bacteria and archaea, has led to extremely efficient gene disruption in a variety of organisms. Here we utilized a CRISPR/CAS9-based system with single guide RNAs to disrupt genes in T. gondii. CRISPR/CAS9 provided an extremely efficient system for targeted gene disruption and for site-specific insertion of selectable markers through homologous recombination. CRISPR/CAS9 also facilitated site-specific insertion in the absence of homology, thus increasing the utility of this approach over existing technology. We then tested whether CRISPR/CAS9 would enable efficient transformation of a natural isolate. Using CRISPR/CAS9, we were able to rapidly generate both rop18 knockouts and complemented lines in the type I GT1 strain, which has been used for forward genetic crosses but which remains refractory to reverse genetic approaches. Assessment of their phenotypes in vivo revealed that ROP18 contributed a greater proportion to acute pathogenesis in GT1 than in the laboratory type I RH strain. Thus, CRISPR/CAS9 extends reverse genetic techniques to diverse isolates of T. gondii, allowing exploration of a much wider spectrum of biological diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01114-14
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 13 2014


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