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Various repair events following CRISPR/Cas9-based mutational correction of an infertility-related mutation in mouse embryos.

PURPOSE: Unpredictable genetic modifications and chromosomal aberrations following CRISPR/Cas9 administration hamper the efficacy of germline editing. Repair events triggered by double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) besides non-homologous end joining and repair template-driven homology-directed repair have been insufficiently investigated in mouse. In this work, we are the first to investigate the precise repair mechanisms triggered by parental-specific DSB induction in mouse for paternal mutational correction in the context of an infertility-related mutation.

METHODS: We aimed to correct a paternal 22-nucleotide deletion in Plcz1, associated with lack of fertilisation in vitro, by administrating CRISPR/Cas9 components during intracytoplasmic injection of Plcz1-null sperm in wild-type oocytes combined with assisted oocyte activation. Through targeted next-generation sequencing, 77 injected embryos and 26 blastomeres from seven injected embryos were investigated. In addition, low-pass whole genome sequencing was successfully performed on 17 injected embryo samples.

RESULTS: Repair mechanisms induced by two different CRISPR/Cas9 guide RNA (gRNA) designs were investigated. In 13.73% (7/51; gRNA 1) and 19.05% (4/21; gRNA 2) of the targeted embryos, only the wild-type allele was observed, of which the majority (85.71%; 6/7) showed integrity of the targeted chromosome. Remarkably, for both designs, only in one of these embryos (1/7; gRNA 1 and 1/4; gRNA2) could repair template use be detected. This suggests that alternative repair events have occurred. Next, various genetic events within the same embryo were detected after single-cell analysis of four embryos.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest the occurrence of mosaicism and complex repair events after CRISPR/Cas9 DSB induction where chromosomal integrity is predominantly contained.

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