RNA-guided Transcriptional Regulation in Plants via dCas9 Chimeric Proteins

  • Hatoon Baazim

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Developing targeted genome regulation approaches holds much promise for accelerating trait discovery and development in agricultural biotechnology. Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs)/CRISPR associated (Cas) system provides bacteria and archaea with an adaptive molecular immunity mechanism against invading nucleic acids through phages and conjugative plasmids. The type II CRISPR/Cas system has been adapted for genome editing purposes across a variety of cell types and organisms. Recently, the catalytically inactive Cas9 (dCas9) protein combined with guide RNAs (gRNAs) were used as a DNA-targeting platform to modulate the expression patterns in bacterial, yeast and human cells. Here, we employed this DNA-targeting system for targeted transcriptional regulation in planta by developing chimeric dCas9-based activators and repressors. For example, we fused to the C-terminus of dCas9 with the activation domains of EDLL and TAL effectors, respectively, to generate transcriptional activators, and the SRDX repression domain to generate transcriptional repressor. Our data demonstrate that the dCas9:EDLL and dCas9:TAD activators, guided by gRNAs complementary to promoter elements, induce strong transcriptional activation on episomal targets in plant cells. Moreover, our data suggest that the dCas9:SRDX repressor and the dCas9:EDLL and dCas9:TAD activators are capable of markedly repressing or activating, respectively, the transcription of an endogenous genomic target. Our data indicate that the CRISPR/dCas9:TFs DNA targeting system can be used in plants as a functional genomic tool and for biotechnological applications.
Date of AwardMay 2014
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMagdy Mahfouz (Supervisor)


  • CRISPR/Cas 9
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • activation
  • dCas9
  • dCas9 - chimeric proteins
  • repression

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