CRISPR-mediated genetic interaction profiling identifies RNA binding proteins controlling metazoan fitness.

Norris AD, Gracida X, Calarco JA

Elife 2017 07 18; 6():

PMID: 28718764


Genetic interaction screens have aided our understanding of complex genetic traits, diseases, and biological pathways. However, approaches for synthetic genetic analysis with null-alleles in metazoans have not been feasible. Here, we present a CRISPR/Cas9-based Synthetic Genetic Interaction (CRISPR-SGI) approach enabling systematic double-mutant generation. Applying this technique in , we comprehensively screened interactions within a set of 14 conserved RNA binding protein genes, generating all possible single and double mutants. Many double mutants displayed fitness defects, revealing synthetic interactions. For one interaction between the MBNL1/2 ortholog and the ELAVL ortholog , double mutants displayed a severely shortened lifespan. Both genes are required for regulating hundreds of transcripts and isoforms, and both may play a critical role in lifespan extension through insulin signaling. Thus, CRISPR-SGI reveals a rich genetic interaction landscape between RNA binding proteins in maintaining organismal health, and will serve as a paradigm applicable to other biological questions.