Tandem Repeat Modification during Double-Strand Break Repair Induced by an Engineered TAL Effector Nuclease in Zebrafish Genome


Tandem repeats (TRs) are abundant and widely distributed in eukaryotic genomes. TRs are thought to have various functions in gene transcription, DNA methylation, nucleosome position and chromatin organization. Variation of repeat units in the genome is observed in association with a number of diseases, such as Fragile X Syndrome, Huntington's disease and Friedreich's ataxia. However, the underlying mechanisms involved are poorly understood, largely owing to the technical limitations in modification of TRs at definite sites in the genome in vivo. Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) are widely used in recent years in gene targeting for their specific binding to target sequences when engineered in vitro. Here, we show that the repair of a double-strand break (DSB) induced by TALENs adjacent to a TR can produce serial types of mutations in the TR region. Sequencing analysis revealed that there are three types of mutations induced by the DSB repair, including indels only within the TR region or within the flanking TALEN target region or simutaneously within both regions. Therefore, desired TR mutant types can be conveniently obtained by using engineered TALENs. These results demonstrate that TALENs can serve as a convenient tool for modifying TRs in the genome in studying the functions of TRs.

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