Development of CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Gene-Drive Construct Targeting the Phenotypic Gene in Plutella xylostella

M. Asad, D. Liu, J. Li, J. Chen and G. Yang,  Frontiers in Physiology,  13:938621. 2022.

The gene-drive system can ensure that desirable traits are transmitted to the progeny more than the normal Mendelian segregation. The clustered regularly interspersed palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) mediated gene-drive system has been demonstrated in dipteran insect species, including Drosophila and Anopheles, not yet in other insect species. Here, we have developed a single CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene-drive construct for Plutella xylostella, a highly-destructive lepidopteran pest of cruciferous crops. The gene-drive construct was developed containing a Cas9 gene, a marker gene (EGFP) and a gRNA sequence targeting the phenotypic marker gene (Pxyellow) and site-specifically inserted into the P. xylostella genome. This homing-based gene-drive copied ∼12 kb of a fragment containing Cas9 gene, gRNA, and EGFP gene along with their promoters to the target site. Overall, 6.67%-12.59% gene-drive efficiency due to homology-directed repair (HDR), and 80.93%-86.77% resistant-allele formation due to non-homologous-end joining (NHEJ) were observed. Furthermore, the transgenic progeny derived from male parents showed a higher gene-drive efficiency compared with transgenic progeny derived from female parents. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene-drive construct in P. xylostella that inherits the desired traits to the progeny. The finding of this study provides a foundation to develop an effective CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene-drive system for pest control.

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