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CRISPR/Cas9-mediated efficient targeted mutagenesis of RAS in Salvia miltiorrhiza

Zhou, Zheng, Tan, Hexin, Li, Qing, Chen, Junfeng, Gao, Shouhong, Wang, Yun, Chen, Wansheng, Zhang, Lei
Phytochemistry 2018 v.148 pp. 63-70
Arabidopsis, RNA, Salvia miltiorrhiza, biochemical pathways, bioinformatics, gene editing, genes, genetically modified organisms, heterozygosity, homozygosity, medicinal plants, metabolomics, mutants, phenolic acids, rice, roots, rosmarinic acid, site-directed mutagenesis, technology
The CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPR-associated) system is a powerful genome editing tool that has been used in many species. In this study, we focused on the phenolic acid metabolic pathway in the traditional Chinese medicinal herb Salvia miltiorrhiza, using the CRISPR/Cas9 system to edit the rosmarinic acid synthase gene (SmRAS) in the water-soluble phenolic acid biosynthetic pathway. The single guide RNA (sgRNA) was designed to precisely edit the most important SmRAS gene, which was selected from 11 family members through a bioinformatics analysis. The sequencing results showed that the genomes of 50% of the transgenic regenerated hairy roots had been successfully edited. Five biallelic mutants, two heterozygous mutants and one homozygous mutant were obtained from 16 independent transgenic hairy root lines when the sgRNA was driven by the Arabidopsis U6 promoter, while no mutants were obtained from 13 independent transgenic hairy root lines when the sgRNA was driven by the rice U3 promoter. Subsequently, expression and metabolomics analysis showed that the contents of phenolic acids, including rosmarinic acid (RA) and lithospermic acid B, and the RAS expression level were decreased in the successfully edited hairy root lines, particularly in the homozygous mutants. In addition, the level of the RA precursor 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid clearly increased. These results indicated that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can be utilized to identify important genes in a gene family with the assistance of bioinformatics analysis and that this new technology is an efficient and specific tool for genome editing in S. miltiorrhiza. This new system presents a promising potential method to regulate plant metabolic networks and improve the quality of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs.