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High-content Imaging-based Pooled CRISPR Screens in Mammalian Cells

By Xiaowei Yan, Nico Stuurman, Susana A. Ribeiro, Marvin E. Tanenbaum, Max A. Horlbeck, Christina R. Liem, Marco Jost, Jonathan S. Weissman, Ronald D. Vale

Posted 01 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.30.179648

CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) -based gene inactivation provides a powerful means of linking genes to particular cellular phenotypes. CRISPR-based screening has mostly relied upon using large genomic pools of single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). However, this approach is limited to phenotypes that can be enriched by chemical selection or FACS sorting. Here, we developed a microscopy-based approach, which we name optical enrichment, to computationally select cells displaying a particular CRISPR-induced phenotype, mark them by photo-conversion of an expressed photo-activatable fluorescent protein, and then isolate the fluorescent cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). A plugin was developed for the open source software ╬╝Manager to automate the phenotypic identification and photo-conversion of cells, allowing ~1.5 million individual cells to be screened in 8 hr. We used this approach to screen 6092 sgRNAs targeting 544 genes for their effects on nuclear size regulation and identified 14 bona fide hits. These results present a highly scalable approach to facilitate imaging-based pooled CRISPR screens.

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