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The genomes of precision edited cloned calves show no evidence for off-target events or increased de novo mutagenesis

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posted on 2023-05-04, 10:32 authored by Swati Jivanji, Chad Harland, Sally ColeSally Cole, Brigid BrophyBrigid Brophy, Dorian Garrick, Russell Snell, Mathew Littlejohn, Goetz LaibleGoetz Laible
Background Animal health and welfare are at the forefront of public concern and the agricultural sector is responding by prioritising the selection of welfare-relevant traits in their breeding schemes. In some cases, welfare-enhancing traits such as horn-status (i.e., polled) or diluted coat colour, which could enhance heat tolerance, may not segregate in breeds of primary interest, highlighting gene-editing tools such as the CRISPR-Cas9 technology as an approach to rapidly introduce variation into these populations. A major limitation preventing the acceptance of CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene-editing, however, is the potential for off-target mutagenesis, which has raised concerns about the safety and ultimate applicability of this technology. Here, we present a clone-based study design that has allowed a detailed investigation of off-target and de novo mutagenesis in a cattle line bearing edits in the PMEL gene for diluted coat-colour. Results No off-target events were detected from high depth whole genome sequencing performed in precursor cell-lines and resultant calves cloned from those edited and non-edited cell lines. Long molecule sequencing at the edited site and plasmid-specific PCRs did not reveal structural variations and/or plasmid integration events in edited samples. Furthermore, an in-depth analysis of de novo mutations across the edited and non-edited cloned calves revealed that the mutation frequency and spectra were unaffected by editing status. Cells in culture, however, appeared to have a distinct mutation signature where de novo mutations were predominantly C > A mutations, and in cloned calves they were predominantly T > G mutations, deviating from the expected excess of C > T mutations. Conclusions We found no detectable CRISPR-Cas9 associated off-target mutations in the gene-edited cells or calves derived from the gene-edited cell line. Comparison of de novo mutation in two gene-edited calves and three non-edited control calves did not reveal a higher mutation load in any one group, gene-edited or control, beyond those anticipated from spontaneous mutagenesis. Cell culture and somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning processes contributed the major source of contrast in mutational profile between samples.


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© The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material.


  • English

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  • No


Springer Nature

Journal title

BMC Genomics




Jivanji, S., Harland, C., Cole, S., Brophy, B., Garrick, D., Snell, R., … Laible, G. (2021). The genomes of precision edited cloned calves show no evidence for off-target events or increased de novo mutagenesis. BMC Genomics, 22, 457. doi:10.1186/s12864-021-07804-x

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