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Plant Cell. 2014 Apr 4;26(4):1398-1409. [Epub ahead of print]

High-Throughput Genotyping of Green Algal Mutants Reveals Random Distribution of Mutagenic Insertion Sites and Endonucleolytic Cleavage of Transforming DNA.

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  • 1Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Plant Biology, Stanford, California 94305.
  • 2Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Plant Biology, Stanford, California 94305


A high-throughput genetic screening platform in a single-celled photosynthetic eukaryote would be a transformative addition to the plant biology toolbox. Here, we present ChlaMmeSeq (Chlamydomonas MmeI-based insertion site Sequencing), a tool for simultaneous mapping of tens of thousands of mutagenic insertion sites in the eukaryotic unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We first validated ChlaMmeSeq by in-depth characterization of individual insertion sites. We then applied ChlaMmeSeq to a mutant pool and mapped 11,478 insertions, covering 39% of annotated protein coding genes. We observe that insertions are distributed in a manner largely indistinguishable from random, indicating that mutants in nearly all genes can be obtained efficiently. The data reveal that sequence-specific endonucleolytic activities cleave the transforming DNA and allow us to propose a simple model to explain the origin of the poorly understood exogenous sequences that sometimes surround insertion sites. ChlaMmeSeq is quantitatively reproducible, enabling its use for pooled enrichment screens and for the generation of indexed mutant libraries. Additionally, ChlaMmeSeq allows genotyping of hits from Chlamydomonas screens on an unprecedented scale, opening the door to comprehensive identification of genes with roles in photosynthesis, algal lipid metabolism, the algal carbon-concentrating mechanism, phototaxis, the biogenesis and function of cilia, and other processes for which C. reinhardtii is a leading model system.

© 2014 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.

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