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HIF1A Knockout by Biallelic and Selection-Free CRISPR Gene Editing in Human Primary Endothelial Cells with Ribonucleoprotein Complexes

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Primary endothelial cells (ECs), especially human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), are broadly used in vascular biology. Gene editing of primary endothelial cells is known to be challenging, due to the low DNA transfection efficiency and the limited proliferation capacity of ECs. We report the establishment of a highly efficient and selection-free CRISPR gene editing approach for primary endothelial cells (HUVECs) with ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. We first optimized an efficient and cost-effective protocol for messenger RNA (mRNA) delivery into primary HUVECs by nucleofection. Nearly 100% transfection efficiency of HUVECs was achieved with EGFP mRNA. Using this optimized DNA-free approach, we tested RNP-mediated CRISPR gene editing of primary HUVECs with three different gRNAs targeting the HIF1A gene. We achieved highly efficient (98%) and biallelic HIF1A knockout in HUVECs without selection. The effects of HIF1A knockout on ECs’ angiogenic characteristics and response to hypoxia were validated by functional assays. Our work provides a simple method for highly efficient gene editing of primary endothelial cells (HUVECs) in studies and manipulations of ECs functions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

    Research areas

  • endothelial cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, HIF1A, hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha, CRISPR-Cas, gene editing, ribonucleoprotein, non-viral gene editing, transfection, nucleofection

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