TUNABLE CRISPR INTERFERENCE SYSTEM (tCRISPRi)

The ability to control the level of gene expression is a major quest in biology. A widely used approach employs deletion of a nonessential gene of interest (knockout), or multi-step recombineering to move a gene of interest under a repressible promoter (knockdown). However, these genetic methods are laborious, and limited for quantitative study. Here, we report a tunable CRISPR-cas system, “tCRISPRi”, for precise and continuous titration of gene expression by more than 30-fold. Our tCRISPRi system employs various previous advancements into a single strain: (1) We constructed a new strain containing a tunable arabinose operon promoter PBAD to quantitatively control the expression of CRISPR-(d)Cas protein over two orders of magnitude in a plasmid-free system. (2) tCRISPRi is reversible, and gene expression is repressed under knockdown conditions. (3) tCRISPRi shows significantly less than 10% leaky expression. (4) Most important from a practical perspective, construction of tCRISPRi to target a new gene requires only one-step of oligo recombineering. Our results show that tCRISPRi, in combination with recombineering, provides a simple and easy-to-implement tool for gene expression control, and is ideally suited for construction of both individual strains and high-throughput tunable knockdown libraries.

tCRISPRi_schematics

reference

For strains used in this study, see our Addgene page.

The paper describing the design and performance of the system can be downloaded here.

The protocol of making tCRISPRi strains is detailed here.