The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a versatile tool for functional genomics and forward genetic screens in mammalian cells. However, it has been challenging to deliver the CRISPR components to sensitive cell types, such as primary human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs), partly due to lentiviral transduction of Cas9 being extremely inefficient in these cells. Here, to overcome these hurdles, we developed a combinatorial system using stable lentiviral delivery of single guide RNA (sgRNA) followed by transient transfection of Cas9 mRNA by electroporation in human cord blood-derived CD34+ HSPCs. We further applied an optimized sgRNA structure, that significantly improved editing efficiency in this context, and we obtained knockout levels reaching 90% for the cell surface proteins CD45 and CD44 in sgRNA transduced HSPCs. Our combinatorial CRISPR/Cas9 delivery approach had no negative influence on CD34 expression or colony forming capacity in vitro compared to non-treated HSPCs. Furthermore, gene edited HSPCs showed intact in vivo reconstitution capacity following transplantation to immunodeficient mice. Taken together, we developed a paradigm for combinatorial CRISPR/Cas9 delivery that enables efficient and traceable gene editing in primary human HSPCs, and is compatible with high functionality both in vitro and in vivo.
- Cell- och molekylärbiologi