Application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system on MDV-1 genome for the study of gene function

Marek's disease virus (MDV) is a member of alphaherpesviruses associated with Marek's disease, a highly contagious neoplastic disease in chickens. Complete sequencing of the viral genome and recombineering techniques using infectious bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones of Marek's disease virus genome have identified major genes that are associated with pathogenicity. Recent advances in CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing have given opportunities for precise editing of the viral genome for identifying pathogenic determinants. Here we describe the application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approaches to delete the Meq and pp38 genes from the CVI988 vaccine strain of MDV. This powerful technology will speed up the MDV gene function studies significantly, leading to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of MDV pathogenesis.

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