Cleave and Rescue gamete killers create conditions for gene drive in plants

O. Georg, L. J. Michelle, I. Tobin and A. H. Bruce,  bioRxiv,  2023.10.13.562303. 2023.

Gene drive elements promote the spread of linked traits, even when their presence confers a fitness cost to carriers, and can be used to change the composition or fate of wild populations. Cleave and Rescue (ClvR) drive elements sit at a fixed chromosomal position and include a DNA sequence-modifying enzyme such as Cas9/gRNAs (the Cleaver/Toxin) that disrupts endogenous versions of an essential gene, and a recoded version of the essential gene resistant to cleavage (the Rescue/Antidote). ClvR spreads by creating conditions in which those lacking ClvR die because they lack functional versions of the essential gene. We demonstrate the essential features of ClvR gene drive in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana through killing of gametes that fail to inherit a ClvR that targets the essential gene YKT61, whose expression is required in male and female gametes for their survival. Resistant (uncleavable but functional) alleles, which can slow or prevent drive, were not observed. Modeling shows plant ClvRs can be used to rapidly drive population modification or suppression. Possible applications in weed control, plant breeding and conservation are discussed.

More related to this: