Increasing the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated precise genome editing in rats by inhibiting NHEJ and using Cas9 protein

Precise modifications such as site mutation, codon replacement, insertion or precise targeted deletion are needed for studies of accurate gene function. The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been proved as a powerful tool to generate gene knockout and knockin animals. But the homologous recombination (HR)-directed precise genetic modification mediated by CRISPR/Cas9 is relatively lower compared with nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway and extremely expected to be improved. Here, in this study 2 strategies were used to increase the precise genetic modification in rats. Scr7, a DNA ligase IV inhibitor, first identified as an anti-cancer compound, and considered as a potential NHEJ inhibitor, was used to increase the HR-mediated precise genetic modification. Meanwhile, the Cas9 protein instead of mRNA was used to save the mRNA to protein translation step to improve the precise modification efficiency. The Fabp2 and Dbndd1 loci were selected to knockin Cre and CreERT2, respectively. Our result showed that both Scr7 and Cas9 protein can increase the precise modification.