Understanding functional miRNA-target interactions in vivo by site-specific genome engineering.
Bassett AR., Azzam G., Wheatley L., Tibbit C., Rajakumar T., McGowan S., Stanger N., Ewels PA., Taylor S., Ponting CP., Liu J-L., Sauka-Spengler T., Fulga TA.
MicroRNA (miRNA) target recognition is largely dictated by short 'seed' sequences, and single miRNAs therefore have the potential to regulate a large number of genes. Understanding the contribution of specific miRNA-target interactions to the regulation of biological processes in vivo remains challenging. Here we use transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/Cas9 technologies to interrogate the functional relevance of predicted miRNA response elements (MREs) to post-transcriptional silencing in zebrafish and Drosophila. We also demonstrate an effective strategy that uses CRISPR-mediated homology-directed repair with short oligonucleotide donors for the assessment of MRE activity in human cells. These methods facilitate analysis of the direct phenotypic consequences resulting from blocking specific miRNA-MRE interactions at any point during development.