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Eukaryotic Cell


Geisel School of Medicine


Low rates of homologous recombination have broadly encumbered genetic studies in the fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. The CRISPR/Cas9 system of bacteria has recently been developed for targeted mutagenesis of eukaryotic genomes with high effi- ciency and, importantly, through a mechanism independent of homologous repair machinery. As this new technology has not been developed for use in A. fumigatus, we sought to test its feasibility for targeted gene disruption in this organism. As a proof of principle, we first demonstrated that CRISPR/Cas9 can indeed be used for high-efficiency (25 to 53%) targeting of the A. fu- migatus polyketide synthase gene (pksP), as evidenced by the generation of colorless (albino) mutants harboring the expected genomic alteration. We further demonstrated that the constitutive expression of the Cas9 nuclease by itself is not deleterious to A. fumigatus growth or virulence, thus making the CRISPR system compatible with studies involved in pathogenesis. Taken to- gether, these data demonstrate that CRISPR can be utilized for loss-of-function studies in A. fumigatus and has the potential to bolster the genetic toolbox for this important pathogen.



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