Genetic conversion of a split-drive into a full-drive element

G. Terradas, J. B. Bennett, Z. Li, J. M. Marshall and E. Bier,  bioRxiv,  2021.12.05.471291. 2021.

Gene-drive systems offer an important new avenue for spreading beneficial traits into wild populations. Their core components, Cas9 and guide RNA (gRNA), can either be linked within a single cassette (full gene drive, fGD) or provided in two separate elements (split gene drive, sGD) wherein the gRNA-bearing element drives in the presence of an independent static source of Cas9. We previously designed a system engineered to turn split into full gene drives. Here, we provide experimental proof-of-principle for such a convertible system inserted at the spo11 locus, which is recoded to restore gene function. In multigenerational cage studies, the reconstituted spo11 fGD cassette initially drives with slower kinetics than the unlinked sGD element (using the same Mendelian vasa-Cas9 source), but eventually reaches a similar level of final introgression. Different kinetic behaviors may result from transient fitness costs associated with individuals co-inheriting Cas9 and gRNA transgenes during the drive process.

More related  to this: