eLife 2018 04 117() doi 10.7554/eLife.35069


CRISPR/Cas9 can be used for precise genetic knock-in of epitope tags into endogenous genes, simplifying experimental analysis of protein function. However, Cas9-assisted epitope tagging in primary mammalian cell cultures is often inefficient and reliant on plasmid-based selection strategies. Here we demonstrate improved knock-in efficiencies of diverse tags (V5, 3XFLAG, Myc, HA) using co-delivery of Cas9 protein pre-complexed with two-part synthetic modified RNAs (annealed crRNA:tracrRNA) and single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotide (ssODN) repair templates. Knock-in efficiencies of ~5-30%, were achieved without selection in embryonic stem (ES) cells, neural stem (NS) cells, and brain tumour-derived stem cells. Biallelic-tagged clonal lines were readily derived and used to define Olig2 chromatin-bound interacting partners. Using our novel web-based design tool, we established a 96-well format pipeline that enabled V5-tagging of 60 different transcription factors. This efficient, selection-free and scalable epitope tagging pipeline enables systematic surveys of protein expression levels, subcellular localization, and interactors across diverse mammalian stem cells.