The CRISPR/Cas9 system has recently been used to confer molecular immunity against several eukaryotic viruses, including plant DNA geminiviruses. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of the efficiencies of targeting different coding and non-coding sequences in the genomes of multiple geminiviruses. Moreover, we analyze the ability of geminiviruses to evade the CRISPR/Cas9 machinery. Our results demonstrate that the CRISPR/Cas9 machinery can efficiently target coding and non-coding sequences and interfere with various geminiviruses. Furthermore, targeting the coding sequences of different geminiviruses resulted in the generation of viral variants capable of replication and systemic movement. By contrast, targeting the noncoding intergenic region sequences of geminiviruses resulted in interference, but with inefficient recovery of mutated viral variants, which thus limited the generation of variants capable of replication and movement. Taken together, our results indicate that targeting noncoding, intergenic sequences provides viral interference activity and significantly limits the generation of viral variants capable of replication and systemic infection, which is essential for developing durable resistance strategies for long-term virus control.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We wish to thank members of the Laboratory for Genome Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for helpful discussions and comments. The study was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.