Efficient targeted recombination with CRISPR/Cas9 in hybrids of Caenorhabditis nematodes with suppressed recombination

Dongying Xie, Bida Gu, Yiqing Liu, Pohao Ye, Yiming Ma, Tongshu Wen, Xiaoyuan Song, Zhongying Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Background: Homology-based recombination (HR) is the cornerstone of genetic mapping. However, a lack of sufficient sequence homology or the presence of a genomic rearrangement prevents HR through crossing, which inhibits genetic mapping in relevant genomic regions. This is particularly true in species hybrids whose genomic sequences are highly divergent along with various genome arrangements, making the mapping of genetic loci, such as hybrid incompatibility (HI) loci, through crossing impractical. We previously mapped tens of HI loci between two nematodes, Caenorhabditis briggsae and C. nigoni, through the repeated backcrossing of GFP-linked C. briggsae fragments into C. nigoni. However, the median introgression size was over 7 Mb, indicating apparent HR suppression and preventing the subsequent cloning of the causative gene underlying a given HI phenotype. Therefore, a robust method that permits recombination independent of sequence homology is desperately desired. Results: Here, we report a method of highly efficient targeted recombination (TR) induced by CRISPR/Cas9 with dual guide RNAs (gRNAs), which circumvents the HR suppression in hybrids between the two species. We demonstrated that a single gRNA was able to induce efficient TR between highly homologous sequences only in the F1 hybrids but not in the hybrids that carry a GFP-linked C. briggsae fragment in an otherwise C. nigoni background. We achieved highly efficient TR, regardless of sequence homology or genetic background, when dual gRNAs were used that each specifically targeted one parental chromosome. We further showed that dual gRNAs were able to induce efficient TR within genomic regions that had undergone inversion, in which HR-based recombination was expected to be suppressed, supporting the idea that dual-gRNA-induced TR can be achieved through nonhomology-based end joining between two parental chromosomes. Conclusions: Recombination suppression can be circumvented through CRISPR/Cas9 with dual gRNAs, regardless of sequence homology or the genetic background of the species hybrid. This method is expected to be applicable to other situations in which recombination is suppressed in interspecies or intrapopulation hybrids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Structural Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Plant Science
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • C. briggsae
  • C. nigoni
  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • Genetic mapping
  • Hybrid
  • Targeted recombination


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