Supplemental Material for Huynh et al., 2018

Targeting gene function with spatial or temporal specificity is a key goal in molecular genetics. CRISPR-Cas9 has greatly facilitated this strategy, but some standard approaches are problematic. For instance, simple tissue-specific or global overexpression of Cas9 can cause significant lethality or developmental delays even in the absence of gRNAs. In particular, we found that Gal4-mediated expression of UAS-Cas9 in the <i>Drosophila</i>prothoracic gland (PG) was not a suitable strategy to disrupt gene expression, since Cas9 alone caused widespread lethality. The PG is widely used for studying endocrine gland function during animal development, but tools validating PG-specific RNAi phenotypes are lacking. Here, we present a collection of modular gateway-compatible CRISPR-Cas9 tools that allow precise modulation of target gene activity with temporal and spatial specificity. We also demonstrate that Cas9 fused to the progesterone ligand-binding domain can be used to activate gene expression via RU486. Using these approaches, we were able to avoid the lethality associated with simple GAL4-mediated overexpression of Cas9 in the PG. Given that the PG is a polytene tissue, we conclude that these tools work effectively in endoreplicating cells where Cas9 has to target multiple copies of the same locus. Our toolkit can be easily adapted for other tissues and can be used both for gain- and loss-of-function studies.