CRISPR-Cas9 Causes Chromosomal Instability and Rearrangements in Cancer Cell Lines, Detectable by Cytogenetic Methods.
Rayner E., Durin M-A., Thomas R., Moralli D., O'Cathail SM., Tomlinson I., Green CM., Lewis A.
CRISPR-Cas9 has quickly become the method of choice for genome editing, with multiple publications describing technical advances and novel applications. It has been widely adopted as a tool for basic research and has significant translational and clinical potential. However, its usage has outpaced the establishment of essential and rigorous controls for unwanted off-target effects, manifested as small mutations, large deletions of target loci, or large-scale chromosomal rearrangements. A common application of CRISPR-Cas9 is as a tool for creating isogenic cell-line models to study the effects of precise mutations, or variants, on disease traits. Here, we describe the effect of standard CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis protocols on well characterized cancer cell lines. We demonstrate that commonly used methods for detecting correctly mutated clones fail to uncover large-scale rearrangements. We show that simple cytogenetic methods can be used to identify clones carrying chromosomal abnormalities and large mutations at target loci. These methods are quick and cost-efficient, and we suggest that such controls should be performed prior to publication of studies based on novel CRISPR-Cas9 mutated cancer cell lines.