Honors & Awards

  • President's Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University of California, Davis (3/6/2011-9/6/2012)
  • UC Davis College of Biological Sciences Summer Research Grant, University of California, Davis (6/1/2011-9/1/2011)
  • Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, University of California, Davis (05/2012-6/2012)
  • Ronald and Lydia Baskin College Medal for Original and Outstanding Research, University of California, Davis (05/2012-6/2012)

Education & Certifications

  • B.S., University of California, Davis, Genetics (2012)


All Publications

  • Cas9 Variants Expand the Target Repertoire in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics Bell, R. T., Fu, B. X., Fire, A. Z. 2016; 202 (2): 381-388


    The proliferation of CRISPR/Cas9-based methods in Caenorhabditis elegans has enabled efficient genome editing and precise genomic tethering of Cas9 fusion proteins. Experimental designs using CRISPR/Cas9 are currently limited by the need for a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) in the target with the sequence NGG. Here we report the characterization of two modified Cas9 proteins in C. elegans that recognize NGA and NGCG PAMs. We found that each variant could stimulate homologous recombination with a donor template at multiple loci and that PAM specificity was comparable to that of wild-type Cas9. To directly compare effectiveness, we used CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to generate a set of assay strains with a common single-guide RNA (sgRNA) target sequence, but that differ in the juxtaposed PAM (NGG, NGA, or NGCG). In this controlled setting, we determined that the NGA PAM Cas9 variant can be as effective as wild-type Cas9. We similarly edited a genomic target to study the influence of the base following the NGA PAM. Using four strains with four NGAN PAMs differing only at the fourth position and adjacent to the same sgRNA target, we observed that efficient homologous replacement was attainable with any base in the fourth position, with an NGAG PAM being the most effective. In addition to demonstrating the utility of two Cas9 mutants in C. elegans and providing reagents that permit CRISPR/Cas9 experiments with fewer restrictions on potential targets, we established a means to benchmark the efficiency of different Cas9::PAM combinations that avoids variations owing to differences in the sgRNA sequence.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.115.185041

    View details for PubMedID 26680661

  • Landscape of target:guide homology effects on Cas9-mediated cleavage NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Fu, B. X., Hansen, L. L., Artiles, K. L., Nonet, M. L., Fire, A. Z. 2014; 42 (22): 13778-13787


    To study target sequence specificity, selectivity, and reaction kinetics of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 activity, we challenged libraries of random variant targets with purified Cas9::guide RNA complexes in vitro. Cleavage kinetics were nonlinear, with a burst of initial activity followed by slower sustained cleavage. Consistent with other recent analyses of Cas9 sequence specificity, we observe considerable (albeit incomplete) impairment of cleavage for targets mutated in the PAM sequence or in 'seed' sequences matching the proximal 8 bp of the guide. A second target region requiring close homology was located at the other end of the guide::target duplex (positions 13-18 relative to the PAM). Sequences flanking the guide+PAM region had measurable (albeit modest) effects on cleavage. In addition, the first-base Guanine constraint commonly imposed by gRNA expression systems has little effect on overall cleavage efficiency. Taken together, these studies provide an in vitro understanding of the complexities of Cas9-gRNA interaction and cleavage beyond the general paradigm of site determination based on the 'seed' sequence and PAM.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gku1102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000347916900035

  • Efficient Marker-Free Recovery of Custom Genetic Modifications with CRISPR/Cas9 in Caenorhabditis elegans GENETICS Arribere, J. A., Bell, R. T., Fu, B. X., Artiles, K. L., Hartman, P. S., Fire, A. Z. 2014; 198 (3): 837-U842
  • Efficient marker-free recovery of custom genetic modifications with CRISPR/Cas9 in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics Arribere, J. A., Bell, R. T., Fu, B. X., Artiles, K. L., Hartman, P. S., Fire, A. Z. 2014; 198 (3): 837-846


    Facilitated by recent advances using CRISPR/Cas9, genome editing technologies now permit custom genetic modifications in a wide variety of organisms. Ideally, modified animals could be both efficiently made and easily identified with minimal initial screening and without introducing exogenous sequence at the locus of interest or marker mutations elsewhere. To this end, we describe a coconversion strategy, using CRISPR/Cas9 in which screening for a dominant phenotypic oligonucleotide-templated conversion event at one locus can be used to enrich for custom modifications at another unlinked locus. After the desired mutation is identified among the F1 progeny heterozygous for the dominant marker mutation, F2 animals that have lost the marker mutation are picked to obtain the desired mutation in an unmarked genetic background. We have developed such a coconversion strategy for Caenorhabditis elegans, using a number of dominant phenotypic markers. Examining the coconversion at a second (unselected) locus of interest in the marked F1 animals, we observed that 14-84% of screened animals showed homologous recombination. By reconstituting the unmarked background through segregation of the dominant marker mutation at each step, we show that custom modification events can be carried out recursively, enabling multiple mutant animals to be made. While our initial choice of a coconversion marker [rol-6(su1006)] was readily applicable in a single round of coconversion, the genetic properties of this locus were not optimal in that CRISPR-mediated deletion mutations at the unselected rol-6 locus can render a fraction of coconverted strains recalcitrant to further rounds of similar mutagenesis. An optimal marker in this sense would provide phenotypic distinctions between the desired mutant/+ class and alternative +/+, mutant/null, null/null, and null/+ genotypes. Reviewing dominant alleles from classical C. elegans genetics, we identified one mutation in dpy-10 and one mutation in sqt-1 that meet these criteria and demonstrate that these too can be used as effective conversion markers. Coconversion was observed using a variety of donor molecules at the second (unselected) locus, including oligonucleotides, PCR products, and plasmids. We note that the coconversion approach described here could be applied in any of the variety of systems where suitable coconversion markers can be identified from previous intensive genetic analyses of gain-of-function alleles.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.114.169730

    View details for PubMedID 25161212

  • Alleles of the homologous recombination gene, RAD59, identify multiple responses to disrupted DNA replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. BMC microbiology Liddell, L. C., Manthey, G. M., Owens, S. N., Fu, B. X., Bailis, A. M. 2013; 13: 229-?


    In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Rad59 is required for multiple homologous recombination mechanisms and viability in DNA replication-defective rad27 mutant cells. Recently, four rad59 missense alleles were found to have distinct effects on homologous recombination that are consistent with separation-of-function mutations. The rad59-K166A allele alters an amino acid in a conserved α-helical domain, and, like the rad59 null allele diminishes association of Rad52 with double-strand breaks. The rad59-K174A and rad59-F180A alleles alter amino acids in the same domain and have genetically similar effects on homologous recombination. The rad59-Y92A allele alters a conserved amino acid in a separate domain, has genetically distinct effects on homologous recombination, and does not diminish association of Rad52 with double-strand breaks.In this study, rad59 mutant strains were crossed with a rad27 null mutant to examine the effects of the rad59 alleles on the link between viability, growth and the stimulation of homologous recombination in replication-defective cells. Like the rad59 null allele, rad59-K166A was synthetically lethal in combination with rad27. The rad59-K174A and rad59-F180A alleles were not synthetically lethal in combination with rad27, had effects on growth that coincided with decreased ectopic gene conversion, but did not affect mutation, unequal sister-chromatid recombination, or loss of heterozygosity. The rad59-Y92A allele was not synthetically lethal when combined with rad27, stimulated ectopic gene conversion and heteroallelic recombination independently from rad27, and was mutually epistatic with srs2. Unlike rad27, the stimulatory effect of rad59-Y92A on homologous recombination was not accompanied by effects on growth rate, cell cycle distribution, mutation, unequal sister-chromatid recombination, or loss of heterozygosity.The synthetic lethality conferred by rad59 null and rad59-K166A alleles correlates with their inhibitory effect on association of Rad52 with double-strand breaks, suggesting that this may be essential for rescuing replication lesions in rad27 mutant cells. The rad59-K174A and rad59-F180A alleles may fractionally reduce this same function, which proportionally reduced repair of replication lesions by homologous recombination and growth rate. In contrast, rad59-Y92A stimulates homologous recombination, perhaps by affecting association of replication lesions with the Rad51 recombinase. This suggests that Rad59 influences the rescue of replication lesions by multiple recombination factors.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1471-2180-13-229

    View details for PubMedID 24125552

  • MicrobiologyOpen Rad59 regulates association of Rad52 with DNA double-strand breaks Nicholas R. Pannunzio, Glenn M. Manthey, Lauren C. Liddell, Becky Xu Hua Fu, Cai M. Roberts, Adam M. Bailis 2012