Malaria is a major cause of global morbidity and mortality, and new strategies for treating and preventing this disease are needed. Here we show that the Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 DNA endonuclease and single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) produced using T7 RNA polymerase (T7 RNAP) efficiently edit the Plasmodium falciparum genome. Targeting the genes encoding native knob- associated histidine-rich protein (kahrp) and erythrocyte binding antigen 175 (eba-175), we achieved high (?50100%) gene disruption frequencies within the usual time frame for generating transgenic parasites.
Genome manipulation in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum remains largely intractable and improved genomic tools are needed to further understand pathogenesis and drug resistance. We demonstrated the CRISPR-Cas9 system for use in P. falciparum by disrupting chromosomal loci and generating marker-free, single-nucleotide substitutions with high efficiency. Additionally, an artemisinin-resistant strain was generated by introducing a previously implicated polymorphism, thus illustrating the value of efficient genome editing in malaria research.
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