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Cas9 Stable Cell Lines: Powerful Tools for CRISPR sgRNA Library Screening and More

  Ed Davis, Ph.D.

Introduction

The CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome editing is rapidly transforming research in biology and medicine, due to its ease-of-design, efficiency, specificity, and relatively low cost (Wang, et al., 2016). In mammalian cell culture systems, most genome editing is achieved using transient transfection or lentiviral transduction, which works well for routine, low-throughput applications. However, for other applications, it would be beneficial to have a system in which one component, namely the CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease or one of its derivatives, was stably integrated into the genome. In this Technical Note, we introduce GeneCopoeia’s GeneHero™ Cas9 stable cell lines, and discuss the great utility that these cell lines provide for genome editing applications.

CRISPR-Cas9 has been adapted from anti-viral immunity mechanisms present in many bacterial and archaea species. The most commonly used CRISPR-Cas9 system to date is from Streptococcus pyogenes (SpCas9). SpCas9 is a DNA endonuclease that, in the presence of a chimeric single guide RNA (sgRNA), makes a double strand break (DSB) in chromosomal DNA (Jinek, et al. 2012). Creation of a DSB is the necessary initiation event for most CRISPR-mediated genome editing applications

Why use a Cas9-expressing stable cell line?

In cell line-based genome editing, Cas9 and sgRNA are typically introduced into cells using transient transfection of either DNA or RNA, or Cas9 protein:sgRNA ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes. Frequencies of DSB formation, as measured in insertion/deletion (indel) assays, often exceed 60% (Fu, et al., 2013). Therefore, transfection of cell lines that do not have Cas9 previously integrated is usually sufficient for gene knockouts resulting from nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), and for applications requiring donor-mediated, homology-directed repair (HDR), including gene knockout, gene mutagenesis, gene tagging, and Safe Harbor transgene knock-in.

There are additional applications that, while it is not required, are enhanced by having Cas9 stably integrated into the genome: 1) gene knockout using lentiviral CRISPR; 2) sgRNA library screening; 3) sgRNA functional validation; and 4) inducible gene editing. Each of these applications is discussed below.

Application 2: Gene knockout using lentiviral CRISPR

While transfection is commonly used for cell line-based genome editing, some cell lines do not transfect well using chemical-, lipid-, or electroporation-based approaches. For these cell lines, researchers often turn to lentiviral-mediated CRISPR CRISPR delivery, because lentiviruses efficiently infect a very large number of mammalian cell types. It is possible to express both Cas9 nuclease and an sgRNA from the same lentivirus, as has been shown previously (Sanjana, et al., 2014), or to co-transduce two different lentiviruses, one expressing Cas9 and the other expressing sgRNA. However, the titers of such “all in one” or Cas9-only lentiviral CRISPR viruses tend to be significantly lower than that achieved from sgRNA-only lentiviral vectors due to the large (>4.4 kb) size of the Cas9 gene. It is for this reason that GeneCopoeia recommends, for genome editing using lentiviral CRISPR applications, applications, that scientists transduce a Cas9-expressing stable cell line with sgRNA-only lentiviruses.

GeneCopoeia provides two options for lentiviral-based CRISPR-Cas9 tools. In the first option (the “DIY”, or do-it-yourself option), you can purchase lentiviral-based sgRNA-expressing plasmids using our online gene search tool, or by requesting a quote. GeneCopoeia will design and construct the plasmids for you. Once you receive your plasmids, you can package them into lentivirus particles yourself using GeneCopoeia’s Lenti-Pac™ packaging kits.

In the second option, GeneCopoeia will package your sgRNA lentiviral plasmids into particles for you. These particles are high titer (>108 TU/ml) and ready-to-use. More information is available on the GeneCopoeia lentiviral particle website. In any case, whether you are producing your own lentivirus, or having GeneCopoeia make it for you, you would use your lentiviral particles to infect a cell line stably expressing Cas9, then screen for your genetic modification and phenotype.

Application 2: sgRNA library screening

One of the most important applications for Cas9-expressing stable cell lines is sgRNA library screening. CRISPR sgRNA libraries are collections of hundreds-to-thousands of plasmids, each expressing a unique sgRNA, and are highly useful for forward mutagenesis screens (Sanjana, et al, 2014). GeneCopoeia carries pre-made CRISPR sgRNA libraries that cover several well-studied pathways and gene groups, and also offers custom sgRNA library construction. For more information, please visit our CRISPR sgRNA library page.

CRISPR sgRNA libraries enable researchers to knock out many genes simultaneously in mammalian cells, opening the door to high-throughput drug target identification and validation, phenotypic changes, and reporter assays. Previously, these applications were achieved using short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-based RNA interference (RNAi). However, while shRNA libraries are useful for high-throughput loss-of-function screens, RNAi has several disadvantages compared with CRISPR: 1) RNAi causes knockdown of gene expression, not knockout, so false negatives resulting from residual gene expression can be missed; 2) RNAi acts only on cytoplasmic RNA, and so cannot silence nuclear RNAs like long non-coding RNAs. Conversely, CRISPR makes permanent changes to the genetic code. Thus, CRISPR can make a complete knockout of all alleles of a gene, whether their transcription products are localized to the nucleus or cytoplasm. So, CRISPR sgRNA library screening can be straightforward, provided you have a good assay or phenotype for screening (Figure 1).

 

 

Figure 1. Workflow for CRISPR sgRNA libraries. A. Pooled screen. Cells infected with each sgRNA library pool are screened for the desired readout. Pooled cells are subjected to Sanger sequencing for individual sgRNAs, or deep sequencing to look for over- or under-representation of individual sgRNAs. B. GeneCopoeia sgRNA libraries are available either as pools or individual sgRNAs. Cells are infected with individual sgRNA lentiviruses. Wells are screened for the readout of interest. Individual sgRNAs corresponding to the phenotype of interest are already known without sequencing.

 

CRISPR sgRNA libraries are best suited for lentiviral delivery rather than plasmid transfection, because lentiviruses provide higher delivery efficiency. However, because the titer of Cas9-expressing lentiviruses is lower than sgRNA-expressing lentiviruses, most sgRNA libraries, including GeneCopoeia sgRNA libraries, are built without Cas9 in the vector. We recommend using our sgRNA libraries in Cas9-expressing stable cell lines.

One example of how useful GeneCopoeia's Cas9-expressing stable cell lines are for sgRNA library screening comes from a paper published by Prashant Mali’s group at the University of California at San Diego (Shen et al., 2017), who used GeneCopoeia Cas9 stable cell lines with combinatorial sgRNA libraries to identify synthetic interactions among 73 cancer-associated genes. Most of these interactions were subsequently validated by drug treatments.

After their initial study, Mali’s group went on further to use sgRNA libraries in GeneCopoeia Cas9-expressing HeLa and A549 cell lines to knock out 51 genes encoding oxidative phosphorylation enzymes singly and in pairwise combinations (Zhao, et al. 2018). The researchers found, among both cell lines, 25 novel cases in which a single gene knockout had little to no effect on cell growth, whereas a pair of genes caused a significant growth defect. In addition, investigators observed that some single gene knockouts had a more severe growth phenotype in HeLa cells than in A549 cells. This difference in phenotype was due to the revelation that A549 cells, and not HeLa cells, carry a mutation in KEAP1, which encodes an E3 ubiquitin ligase that is mutated in many cases of lung cancer and has been implicated in resistance to chemotherapy. Loss of KEAP1 causes an elevation in the levels of some enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation, resulting in resistance to single oxidative phosphorylation gene knockout. The authors concluded that design of anticancer drugs targeting oxidative phosphorylation enzymes needs to be done in consideration of the KEAP1 mutational status of the cancer.

Application 3: sgRNA functional validation

Cell line-based CRISPR genome editing projects typically require several (>3) months of work, including transfection, clone isolation, and screening. While CRISPR typically provides a highly efficient method for genome editing, the individual sgRNAs themselves do exhibit variations in efficiency due to the nature of individual target sites. Therefore, it would be helpful to determine which CRISPR sgRNAs have the highest potential for successful genome editing before doing lots of screening work.

We recommend the mismatch cleavage assay (Qiu, et al., 2004) for sgRNA functional validation in a Cas9 stable cell line. GeneCopoeia’s IndelCheck™ mismatch cleavage assay (https://www.genecopoeia.com/product/indelcheck-detection-system/) is a cell culture-based assay designed to efficiently detect indels resulting from DSB-mediated NHEJ. The basic workflow for the IndelCheck™ mismatch cleavage assay for sgRNA functional validation is illustrated in Figure 2.

 

Figure 2. Workflow of the IndelCheck™ mismatch cleavage assay. A population of cells that has been exposed to CRISPR components is subjected to genomic DNA PCR using primers flanking the target site. Denaturation and reannealing of the PCR products creates a mixed population of homoduplex and heteroduplex molecules. The fragments are treated with T7 Endonuclease I, which cuts only the heteroduplex molecules. Cleavage products are detected by standard agarose gel electrophoresis.

Functional validation of CRISPR sgRNAs can be performed either in a commonly used, “model” cell line (e.g. HEK293), or in your own cell line. GeneCopoeia has several pre-made human and mouse Cas9-expressing stable cell lines in widely-used backgrounds (Table 1). Alternatively, you can purchase CRISPR reagents from us that allow you to readily build your own Cas9-expressing stable cell line.

Application 4: Inducible genome editing

CRISPR is commonly used to generate genome modifications in a constitutive fashion, without regard to a specific time or stage in cell growth. Sometimes, though, it is useful to introduce the modification after a particular event has occurred, such as treatment of cells with a compound, or at a specific time during differentiation. Inducible CRISPR (iCRISPR) was first demonstrated by Gonzalez, et al. (2014), who built an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) model cell line carrying Cas9 that can be expressed after addition of the tetracycline analog doxycycline.

GeneCopoeia Cas9 stable cell lines

GeneCopoeia carries a large suite of human, mouse, and rat cell lines stably expressing the SpCas9 nuclease or a high-fidelity SpCas9 variant (SpCas9-HF1) (Table 1).

Buy Catalog # Cell line Description Cell type Selection marker Price, Academic Price, Industry
Human Cas9-expressing stable cell lines
Buy Catalog # Cell line Description Cell type Selection marker Price, Academic Price, Industry
Human cell lines stably expressing S. pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9)
SL502 HEK293T Human cell line HEK293T stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Embryonic kidney Puro $945 $2695
SL554 HEK293 Human cell line HEK293 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site, with loxP Embryonic kidney Hygro $945 $2695
SL501 NCI-H1299 Human cell line NCI-H1299 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Lung cancer Puro $1395 $3995
SL533 NCI-H1299 Human cell line NCI-H1299 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL504 A549 Human cell line A549 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL529 H1975 Human cell line H1975 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL536 NCI-H1437 Human cell line NCI-H1437 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL561 NCI-H661 Human cell line NCI-H661 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL578NEW HCC827 Human cell line HCC827 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lung cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL503 HeLa Human cell line HeLa stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Cervical cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL514 MCF-7 Human cell line MCF-7 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL524 MCF-7 Human cell line MCF-7 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL515 MDA-MB-231 Human cell line MDA-MB-231 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL516 MDA-MB-468 Human cell line MDA-MB-468 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL517 T47D Human cell line T47D stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL535 SK-BR-3 Human cell line SK-BR-3 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL544 HCC70 Human cell line HCC70 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL547 DU4475 Human cell line DU4475 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL558 HCC1428 Human cell line HCC1428 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL562NEW CAMA-1 Human cell line CAMA-1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL563NEW HCC38 Human cell line HCC38 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL574NEW AU-565 Human cell line AU-565 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL575NEW HCC1500 Human cell line HCC1500 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Breast cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL518 HepG2 Human cell line HepG2 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL522 SNU-475 Human cell line SNU-475 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL530 SNU-449 Human cell line SNU-449 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL531 PLC/PRF/5 Human cell line PLC/PRF/5 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL537 SNU-387 Human cell line SNU-387 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL538 SNU-423 Human cell line SNU-423 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL543 C3A Human cell line C3A stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL557 SK-HEP-1 Human cell line SK-HEP-1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Liver/ascites cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL520 AGS Human cell line AGS stably expressing Cas9 from random site Stomach/gastric cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL526 SNU-1 Human cell line SNU-1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Stomach/gastric cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL527 KATOIII Human cell line KATOIII stably expressing Cas9 from random site Stomach/gastric cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL545 SNU-16 Human cell line SNU-16 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Stomach/gastric cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL565NEW NCI-N87 Human cell line NCI-N87 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Stomach/gastric cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL521 BXPC-3 Human cell line BXPC-3 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Pancreatic cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL528 HPAF-II Human cell line HPAF-II stably expressing Cas9 from random site Pancreatic cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL540 CFPAC-1 Human cell line CFPAC-1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Pancreatic cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL570NEW Panc 10.05 Human cell line Panc 10.05 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Pancreatic cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL523 HT-29 Human cell line HT-29 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL525 LoVo Human cell line LoVo stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL539 RKO Human cell line RKO stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL541 T84 Human cell line T84 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL542 COLO 205 Human cell line COLO 205 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL551 SNU-C1 Human cell line SNU-C1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL572NEW HCT116 Human cell line HCT116 stably expressing Cas9 from AAV1 site Colon cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL532 LS411N Human cell line LS411N stably expressing Cas9 from random site Caecum cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL583NEW Granta-519 Human cell line Granta-519 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Blood cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL546 U-2-OS Human cell line U-2 OS stably expressing Cas9 from random site Bone cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL552 K562 Human cell line K562 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Bone marrow cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL555 Jurkat Human T lymphocyte cell line Jurkat stably expressing Cas9 from random site Acute T cell leukemia Hygro $1395 $3995
SL548 DU145 Human cell line DU145 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Prostate cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL550 SH-SY5Y Human cell line SH-SY5Y stably expressing Cas9 from random site Neuroblastoma Hygro $1395 $3995
SL560 T24 Human cell line T24 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Bladder cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL566 HK2 Human cell line HK2 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Immortalized kidney cell line Hygro $1395 $3995
SL577NEW 786-O Human cell line 786-O stably expressing Cas9 from random site Kidney cancer Hygro $1395 $3995
SL576NEW 1321N1 Human cell line 1321N1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Brain astrocytoma Hygro $1395 $3995
SL512NEW HT1080 Human cell line HT1080 stably expressing Cas9 from AAVS1 Fibrosarcoma Hygro $1395 $3995
SL580NEW SK-OV-3 Human cell line SK-OV-3 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Ovary Hygro $1395 $3995
Human cell lines stably expressing high-fidelity S. pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9-HF1)
SL553 HEK293 Human cell line HEK293 stably expressing SpCas9-HF1 from AAVS1 site Embryonic kidney Hygro $1795 $4995
Mouse cell lines stably expressing S. pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9)
SL509 Neuro2a Mouse cell line Neuro2a stably expressing Cas9 from ROSA26 site Neuroblastoma Hygro $1395 $3995
SL559 Neuro2a Mouse cell line Neuro2a stably expressing Cas9 from ROSA26 site, with loxP Neuroblastoma Hygro $1395 $3995
SL510 Neuro2a Mouse cell line Neuro2a stably expressing Cas9 from ROSA26 site Neuroblastoma Puro $1395 $3995
SL511 Neuro2a Mouse cell line Neuro2a stably expressing Cas9 from ROSA26 site Neuroblastoma Neo $1395 $3995
SL564 C2C12 Mouse cell line C2C12 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Muscle (myoblast) Hygro $1395 $3995
SL567 BA/F3 Mouse cell line BA/F3 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Lymph Hygro $1395 $3995
SL569NEW NIH-3T3 Mouse cell line NIH-3T3 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Embryo fibroblast Hygro $1395 $3995
SL581NEW 4T1 Mouse cell line 4T1 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Mammary gland Hygro $1395 $3995
SL582NEW CT26 Mouse cell line CT26 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Colon Hygro $1395 $3995
Mouse cell lines stably expressing high-fidelity S. pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9-HF)
SL571 Neuro2a Mouse cell line Neuro2a stably expressing SpCas9-HF from ROSA26 site Neuroblastoma Hygro $1795 $4995
Rat cell lines stably expressing S. pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9)
SL534 C6 Rat cell line C6 stably expressing Cas9 from random site Glioma Hygro $1395 $3995

  Warranty statement and limited use license   MSDS
 

 

Note: GeneCopoeia also offers custom-built CRISPR cell line services. To inquire, please contact inquiry@genecopoeia.com.

Table 1. List of GeneCopoeia pre-made human and mouse Cas9 stable cell lines.

These cell lines provide several benefits and advantages for genome editing work, including:

  • Built-in, stable Cas9 expression. Minimizes need for co-transfection/transduction of sgRNAs. Ideal for sgRNA library screening, lentiviral CRISPR, sgRNA validation, and inducible CRISPR.
  • Single clone isolation.  GeneCopoeia’s Cas9 stable cell lines are derived from single cell clones, providing a uniform genetic background, unlike stable pools, which can vary in transgene expression and carry unwanted background mutations.
  • Functionally validated. The function of Cs9 is validated for cleavage ability using the IndelCheck™ T7 Endonuclease I assay, assuring high quality.
  • Compatibility. Compatible with GeneCopoeia Genome-CRISP™ sgRNA clones, sgRNA libraries, and donor clones.

 

Figure 3. Structure of a stably integrated CRISPR Cas9 nuclease construct. Cas9 or its derivatives is integrated into a chromosome either randomly via lentiviral transduction or by Safe Harbor knock-in under control of a constitutive promoter.

 

If you don’t see your cell line of interest in Table 1, you can use either GeneCopoeia’s Cas9 lentiviral clones, lentiviral particles, or Safe Harbor knock-in system to integrate the Cas9 gene yourself. GeneCopoeia’s Safe Harbor knock-in system consists of kits containing CRISPR reagents targeting the human AAVS1 and mouse ROSA26 Safe Harbor sites, and can be ordered with many donors for HDR, such as those expressing Cas9 used for the cell lines in Table 1, or any of more than 45,000 human and mouse ORFs. More information about GeneCopoeia’s Safe Harbor kits and knock-in ORF clones is available on GeneCopoeia’s Safe Harbor Knock-in website.

At GeneCopoeia, our Genome Editing team has a wealth of expertise with CRISPR applications in mammalian systems. We start at CRISPR design and deliver sequence-verified plasmid DNA. We also offer functional validation kits and services for your CRISPR constructs, construct stable cell lines or transgenic mice containing your CRISPR-mediated modification of interest, and provide scientific consulting services to help you plan your projects.

Want to know more about Cas9 stable cell lines or to place an order? Visit our website, call 1-866-360-9531, or email inquiry@genecopoeia.com.

 

References

•    Gonzalez, et al. (2014). An iCRISPR Platform for Rapid, Multiplexable, and Inducible Genome Editing in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell 15, 215.
•    Jinek, et al. (2012). A programmable dual-RNA–guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity. Science 337, 816.
•    Qiu, et al. (2004). Mutation detection using Surveyor™ nuclease. Biotechniques 36, 702.
•    Sanjana, et al. (2014). Improved vectors and genome-wide libraries for CRISPR screening. Nature Methods 11, 783.
•    Shen, et al. (2017). Combinatorial CRISPR–Cas9 screens for de novo mapping of genetic interactions. Nature Methods 14, 573.
•    Wang, et al. (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 in Genome Editing and Beyond. Ann. Rev. Biochemistry 85, 227.
•    Zhao, et al. (2018). Combinatorial CRISPR-Cas9 Metabolic Screens Reveal Critical Redox Control Points Dependent on the KEAP1-NRF2 Regulatory Axis. Molecular Cell 69, 699

 

 

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