CRISPRi-seq for genome-wide fitness quantification in bacteria

Authors: de Bakker, V.*, Liu, X.*, Bravo, A.M., and Veening, J.W.

Published in: Nature Protocols 2022 Vol. 17 Issue 2

DOI: 10.1038/s41596-021-00639-6


CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) is a powerful tool to link essential and nonessential genes to specific phenotypes and to explore their functions. Here we describe a protocol for CRISPRi screenings to assess genome-wide gene fitness in a single sequencing step (CRISPRi-seq). We demonstrate the use of the protocol in Streptococcus pneumoniae, an important human pathogen; however, the protocol can easily be adapted for use in other organisms. The protocol includes a pipeline for single-guide RNA library design, workflows for pooled CRISPRi library construction, growth assays and sequencing steps, a read analysis tool (2FAST2Q) and instructions for fitness quantification. We describe how to make an IPTG-inducible system with small libraries that are easy to handle and cost-effective and overcome bottleneck issues, which can be a problem when using similar, transposon mutagenesis-based methods. Ultimately, the procedure yields a fitness score per single-guide RNA target for any given growth condition. A genome-wide screening can be finished in 1 week with a constructed library. Data analysis and follow-up confirmation experiments can be completed in another 2–3 weeks.