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Current Publications

Enderle et al 2019
Enderle et al., (2019) Model of DPC repair in plants.
Schmidt inversion
Schmidt et al. (2019) Schematic representation of the formation of an inversion event after induction of two DSBs
Dorn et al 2018
Dorn et al. (2019) Classification of FANCJB into the interstrand CL repair network of Arabidopsisthaliana.
Wolter et al 2018
Wolter et al. (2018) Outline of the in planta GT approach as applied for the induction of a point mutation in the ALS gene of Arabidopsis.

The Protease WSS1A, the Endonuclease MUS81, and the Phosphodiesterase TDP1 are Involved in Independent Pathways of DNA-protein Crosslink Repair in Plants

Janina Enderle, Annika Dorn, Natalja Beying, Oliver Trapp and Holger Puchta

Abstract

DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs) represent a severe threat to the genome integrity; however, the main mechanisms of DPC repair were only recently elucidated in humans and yeast. Here we define the pathways for DPC repair in plants. Using CRISPR/Cas9, we could show that only one of two homologues of the universal repair proteases SPRTN/Wss1, WSS1A, is essential for DPC repair in Arabidopsis thaliana. WSS1A defective lines exhibit developmental defects and are hypersensitive to camptothecin (CPT) and cis-platin. Interestingly, the CRISPR/Cas9 mutants of TYROSYL-DNA PHOSPHODIESTERASE 1 (TDP1) are insensitive to CPT, and only the wss1A tdp1 double mutant reveals a higher sensitivity than the wss1A single mutant. This indicates that TDP1 defines a minor backup pathway in the repair of DPCs. Moreover, we found that knock out of the endonuclease MMS AND UV SENSITIVE PROTEIN 81 (MUS81) results in a strong sensitivity to DPC-inducing agents. The fact that wss1A mus81 and tdp1 mus81 double mutants exhibit growth defects and an increase in dead cells in root meristems after CPT treatment, demonstrates that there are three independent pathways for DPC repair in Arabidopsis. These pathways are defined by their 35 heir different biochemical specificities, as main actors, the DNA endonuclease MUS81 and the protease WSS1A, and the phosphodiesterase TDP1 as backup.

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Efficient induction of heritable inversions in plant genomes using the CRISPR/Cas system

Carla Schmidt, Michael Pacher and Holger Puchta

Abstract

During the evolution of plant genomes, sequence inversions occurred repeatedly making the respective regions inaccessible for meiotic recombination and thus for breeding. Thus, it is important to develop technologies that allow the induction of inversions within chromosomes in a directed and efficient manner. Using the Cas9 nuclease from S. aureus (SaCas9), we were able to obtain scarless heritable inversions with high efficiency in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Via deep sequencing, we defined the patterns of junction formation in wild-type and in the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) mutant ku70-1. Surprisingly, in plants deficient of KU70, inversion induction is enhanced, indicating that KU70 is required for tethering the local broken ends together during repair. However, in contrast to wild-type, most junctions are formed by microhomology-mediated NHEJ and thus are imperfect with mainly deletions, making this approach unsuitable for practical applications. Using egg cell specific expression of Cas9, we were able to induce heritable inversions at different genomic loci and at intervals between 3 and 18 kb, in the percentage range, in the T1 generation. By screening individual lines, inversion frequencies of up to the 10% range were found in T2. Most of these inversions had scarless junctions and were without any sequence change within the inverted region, making the technology attractive for use in crop plants. Applying our approach, it should be possible to reverse natural inversions and induce artificial ones to break or fix linkages between traits at will.

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An Arabidopsis FANCJ helicase homologue is required for DNA crosslink repair and rDNA repeat stability

Annika Dorn, Laura Feller, Dominique Castri, Sarah Röhrig, Janina Enderle, Natalie J. Herrmann,

Abstract

Proteins of the Fanconi Anemia (FA) complementation group are required for crosslink (CL) repair in humans and their loss leads to severe pathological phenotypes. Here we characterize a homolog of the Fe-S cluster helicase FANCJ in the model plant Arabidopsis, AtFANCJB, and show that it is involved in interstrand CL repair. It acts at a presumably early step in concert with the nuclease FAN1 but independently of the nuclease AtMUS81, and is epistatic to both error-prone and error-free post-replicative repair in Arabidopsis. The simultaneous knock out of FANCJB and the Fe-S cluster helicase RTEL1 leads to induced cell death in root meristems, indicating an important role of the enzymes in replicative DNA repair. Surprisingly, we found that AtFANCJB is involved in safeguarding rDNA stability in plants. In the absence of AtRTEL1 and AtFANCJB, we detected a synergetic reduction to about one third of the original number of 45S rDNA copies. It is tempting to speculate that the detected rDNA instability might be due to deficiencies in G-quadruplex structure resolution and might thus contribute to pathological phenotypes of certain human genetic diseases.

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Efficient in planta gene targeting in Arabidopsis using egg-cell specific expression of the Cas9 nuclease of S. aureus

Felix Wolter, Jeanette Klemm and Holger Puchta

 

Abstract

Gene targeting (GT), the programmed change of genomic sequences by homologous recombination (HR), is still a major challenge in plants. We previously developed an in planta GT strategy by simultaneously releasing from the genome a dsDNA donor molecule and creating a DSB at a specific site within the targeted gene. Using Cas9 form S. pyogenes (SpCas9) under the control of a ubiquitin gene promoter, we obtained seeds harbouring GT events, although at a low frequency. In the present research we tested different developmentally controlled promotors and different kinds of DNA lesions for their ability to enhance GT of the acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene of Arabidopsis. For this purpose, we used the S. aureus Cas9 (SaCas9) nuclease and the SpCas9 nickase in various combinations. Thus, we analysed the effect of single strand break (SSB) activation of a targeted gene and/or the HR donor region. Moreover, we tested whether DSBs with 5’ or 3’ overhangs can improve in planta GT. Interestingly, the use of the SaCas9 nuclease controlled by an egg cell specific promoter was the most efficient: depending on the line, in the very best case 6% of all seeds carried GT events. In a third of all lines, the targeting occurred around the one percent range of the tested seeds. Molecular analysis revealed that in about half of the cases perfect HR of both DSB ends occurred. Thus, using the improved technology, it should now be feasible to introduce any directed change into the Arabidopsis genome at will. in vivo.

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