Generation of human endometrial knockout cell lines with the CRISPR/Cas9 system confirms the prostaglandin F2α synthase activity of aldo-ketoreductase 1B1

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Prostaglandins (PGs) are important regulators of female reproductive function. The primary PGs produced in the endometrium are PGE2 and PGF2α. Relatively little is known about the biosynthetic pathways leading to the formation of PGF2α. We have described the role of aldo-ketoreductase (AKR)1B1 in increased PGF2α production by human endometrial cells following stimulation with interleukin-1β (IL-1β). However, alternate PGF synthases are expressed concurrently in endometrial cells. A definite proof of the role of AKR1B1 would require gene knockout; unfortunately, this gene has no direct equivalent in the mouse. Recently, an efficient genome-editing technology using RNA-guided DNase Cas9 and the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) system has been developed. We have adapted this approach to knockout AKR1B1 gene expression in human endometrial cell lines. One clone (16-2) of stromal origin generated by the CRISPR/Cas9 system exhibited a complete loss of AKR1B1 protein and mRNA expression, whereas other clones presented with partial edition. The present report focuses on the characterization of clone 16-2 exhibiting deletion of 68 and 2 nucleotides, respectively, on each of the alleles. Cells from this clone lost their ability to produce PGF2α but maintained their original stromal cell (human endometrial stromal cells-2) phenotype including the capacity to decidualize in the presence of progesterone (medroxyprogesterone acetate) and 8-bromo-cAMP. Knockout cells also maintained their ability to increase PGE2 production in response to IL-1β. In summary, we demonstrate that the new genome editing CRISPR/Cas9 system can be used in human cells to generate stable knockout cell line models. Our results suggest that genome editing of human cell lines can be used to complement mouse KO models to validate the function of genes in differentiated tissues and cells. Our results also confirm that AKR1B1 is involved in the synthesis of PGF2α.

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