Bloh KM, Bialk PA, Gopalakrishnapillai A, Kolb EA, Kmiec EB
Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2017 Jun;7:288-298
Using a CRISPR/Cas9 system, we have reengineered a translational start site in the GATA1 gene in K562 cells. This mutation accounts largely for the onset of myeloid leukemia in Down syndrome (ML-DS). For this reengineering, we utilized CRISPR/Cas9 to generate mammalian cell lines that express truncated versions of the Gata1s protein similar to that seen in ML-DS, as determined by analyzing specific genetic alterations resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 cleavage. During this work, 73 cell lines were clonally expanded, with allelic variance analyzed. Using Tracking of Indels by DEcomposition (TIDE) and Sanger sequencing, we defined the DNA sequence and variations within each allele. We found significant heterogeneity between alleles in the same clonally expanded cell, as well as among alleles from other clonal expansions. Our data demonstrate and highlight the importance of the randomness of resection promoted by non-homologous end joining after CRISPR/Cas9 cleavage in cells undergoing genetic reengineering. Such heterogeneity must be fully characterized to predict altered functionality inside target tissues and to accurately interpret the associated phenotype. Our data suggest that in cases where the objective is to rearrange specific nucleotides to redirect gene expression in human cells, it is imperative to analyze genetic composition at the individual allelic level.