β-thalassemia, autosomal recessive blood disorders that reduce the production of hemoglobin, are majorly caused by the point mutation of the HBB gene resulting in reduced or absent β-globin chains of the hemoglobin tetramer. Animal models recapitulating both the phenotype and genotype of human disease are valuable in the exploration of pathophysiology and for in vivo evaluation of novel therapeutic treatments. The docile temperament, short vital cycles and low cost of rabbits make them an attractive animal model. However, β-thalassemia rabbit models are currently unavailable. Here, using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, we point mutated the rabbit β-globin gene HBB2 with high efficiency and generated a β-thalassemia rabbit model. Hematological and histological analyses demonstrated that the genotypic mosaic F0 displayed a mild phenotype of anemia, and the heterozygous F1 exhibited typical characteristics of β-thalassemia. Whole blood transcriptome analysis revealed that the gene expression was altered in HBB2-targeted when compared to WT rabbits. And the highly expressed genes in HBB2-targeted rabbits were enriched in lipid and iron metabolism, innate immunity and hematopoietic processes. In conclusion, using CRISPR-mediated HBB2 knockout, we have created a β-thalassemia rabbit model the accurately recapitulates the human disease phenotype. We believe this tool will be valuable in advancing the investigation of pathogenesis and novel therapeutic targets of β-thalassemia and associated complications.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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