Pierce’s disease (PD) of grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and is vectored by xylem sap-sucking insects, whereas Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) causes Red Blotch Disease and is transmitted in the laboratory by alfalfa leafhopper Spissistilus festinus. The significance of anthocyanin accumulations in distinct tissues of grapevine by these pathogens is unknown, but vector feeding preferences and olfactory cues from host anthocyanins may be important for these disease etiologies. Phosphate, sugar, and UV light are known to regulate anthocyanin accumulation via miR828 and Trans-Acting Small-interfering locus4 (TAS4), specifically in grape by production of phased TAS4a/b/c small-interfering RNAs that are differentially expressed and target MYBA5/6/7 transcription factor transcripts for post-transcriptional slicing and antisense-mediated silencing. To generate materials that can critically test these genes’ functions in PD and GRBV disease symptoms, we produced transgenic grape plants targeting TAS4b and MYBA7 using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. We obtained five MYBA7 lines all with bi-allelic editing events and no off-targets detected at genomic loci with homology to the guide sequence. We obtained two independent edited TAS4b lines; one bi-allelic, the other heterozygous while both had fortuitous evidences of bi-allelic TAS4a off-target editing events at the paralogous locus. No visible anthocyanin accumulation phenotypes were observed in regenerated plants, possibly due to the presence of genetically redundant TAS4c and MYBA5/6 loci or absence of inductive environmental stress conditions. The editing events encompass single base insertions and di/trinucleotide deletions of Vvi-TAS4a/b and Vvi-MYBA7 at expected positions 3 nt upstream from the guideRNA proximal adjacent motifs NGG. We also identified evidences of homologous recombinations of TAS4a with TAS4b at the TAS4a off-target in one of the TAS4b lines, resulting in a chimeric locus with a bi-allelic polymorphism, supporting independent recombination events in transgenic plants associated with apparent high Cas9 activities. The lack of obvious visible pigment phenotypes in edited plants precluded pathogen challenge tests of the role of anthocyanins in host PD and GRBV resistance/tolerance mechanisms. Nonetheless, we demonstrate successful genome-editing of non-coding RNA and MYB transcription factor loci which can serve future characterizations of the functions of TAS4a/b/c and MYBA7 in developmental, physiological, and environmental biotic/abiotic stress response pathways important for value-added nutraceutical synthesis and pathogen responses of winegrape.
- Genetically modified organisms
- Genome editing
- MYB transcription factor
- Off-target editing
- RNA interference