Background: Females of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Medfly) are major agricultural pests, as they lay eggs into the fruit crops of hundreds of plant species. In Medfly, female sex determination is based on the activation of Cctransformer (Cctra). A maternal contribution of Cctra is required to activate Cctra itself in the XX embryos and to start and epigenetically maintain a Cctra positive feedback loop, by female-specific alternative splicing, leading to female development. In XY embryos, the male determining Maleness-on-the-Y gene (MoY) blocks this activation and Cctra produces male-specific transcripts encoding truncated CcTRA isoforms and male differentiation occurs. Results: With the aim of inducing frameshift mutations in the first coding exon to disrupt both female-specific and shorter male-specific CcTRA open reading frames (ORF), we injected Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (Cas9 and single guide RNA, sgRNA) in embryos. As this approach leads to mostly monoallelic mutations, masculinization was expected only in G1 XX individuals carrying biallelic mutations, following crosses of G0 injected individuals. Surprisingly, these injections into XX-only embryos led to G0 adults that included not only XX females but also 50% of reverted fertile XX males. The G0 XX males expressed male-specific Cctra transcripts, suggesting full masculinization. Interestingly, out of six G0 XX males, four displayed the Cctra wild type sequence. This finding suggests that masculinization by Cas9-sgRNA injections was independent from its mutagenic activity. In line with this observation, embryonic targeting of Cctra in XX embryos by a dead Cas9 (enzymatically inactive, dCas9) also favoured a male-specific splicing of Cctra, in both embryos and adults. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the establishment of Cctra female-specific autoregulation during the early embryogenesis has been repressed in XX embryos by the transient binding of the Cas9-sgRNA on the first exon of the Cctra gene. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that the shift of Cctra splicing from female to male mode is induced also by dCas9. Collectively, the present findings corroborate the idea that a transient embryonic inactivation of Cctra is sufficient for male sex determination.

Targeting the autosomal Ceratitis capitata transformer gene using Cas9 or dCas9 to masculinize XX individuals without inducing mutations / Primo, P.; Meccariello, A.; Inghilterra, M. G.; Gravina, A.; Del Corsano, G.; Volpe, G.; Sollazzo, G.; Aceto, S.; Robinson, M. D.; Salvemini, M.; Saccone, G.. - In: BMC GENETICS. - ISSN 1471-2156. - 21:Suppl 2(2020), p. 150. [10.1186/s12863-020-00941-4]

Targeting the autosomal Ceratitis capitata transformer gene using Cas9 or dCas9 to masculinize XX individuals without inducing mutations

Primo P.
Primo
Investigation
;
Meccariello A.
Investigation
;
Gravina A.
Methodology
;
Volpe G.
Investigation
;
Sollazzo G.
Investigation
;
Aceto S.
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Salvemini M.
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Saccone G.
Ultimo
Conceptualization
2020

Abstract

Background: Females of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Medfly) are major agricultural pests, as they lay eggs into the fruit crops of hundreds of plant species. In Medfly, female sex determination is based on the activation of Cctransformer (Cctra). A maternal contribution of Cctra is required to activate Cctra itself in the XX embryos and to start and epigenetically maintain a Cctra positive feedback loop, by female-specific alternative splicing, leading to female development. In XY embryos, the male determining Maleness-on-the-Y gene (MoY) blocks this activation and Cctra produces male-specific transcripts encoding truncated CcTRA isoforms and male differentiation occurs. Results: With the aim of inducing frameshift mutations in the first coding exon to disrupt both female-specific and shorter male-specific CcTRA open reading frames (ORF), we injected Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (Cas9 and single guide RNA, sgRNA) in embryos. As this approach leads to mostly monoallelic mutations, masculinization was expected only in G1 XX individuals carrying biallelic mutations, following crosses of G0 injected individuals. Surprisingly, these injections into XX-only embryos led to G0 adults that included not only XX females but also 50% of reverted fertile XX males. The G0 XX males expressed male-specific Cctra transcripts, suggesting full masculinization. Interestingly, out of six G0 XX males, four displayed the Cctra wild type sequence. This finding suggests that masculinization by Cas9-sgRNA injections was independent from its mutagenic activity. In line with this observation, embryonic targeting of Cctra in XX embryos by a dead Cas9 (enzymatically inactive, dCas9) also favoured a male-specific splicing of Cctra, in both embryos and adults. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the establishment of Cctra female-specific autoregulation during the early embryogenesis has been repressed in XX embryos by the transient binding of the Cas9-sgRNA on the first exon of the Cctra gene. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that the shift of Cctra splicing from female to male mode is induced also by dCas9. Collectively, the present findings corroborate the idea that a transient embryonic inactivation of Cctra is sufficient for male sex determination.
2020
Targeting the autosomal Ceratitis capitata transformer gene using Cas9 or dCas9 to masculinize XX individuals without inducing mutations / Primo, P.; Meccariello, A.; Inghilterra, M. G.; Gravina, A.; Del Corsano, G.; Volpe, G.; Sollazzo, G.; Aceto, S.; Robinson, M. D.; Salvemini, M.; Saccone, G.. - In: BMC GENETICS. - ISSN 1471-2156. - 21:Suppl 2(2020), p. 150. [10.1186/s12863-020-00941-4]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/830738
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