Highly efficient generation of sheep with a defined FecBB mutation via adenine base editing
Base editing has the potential to improve important economic traits in agriculture and can precisely convert single nucleotides in DNA or RNA sequences into minimal double-strand DNA breaks (DSB). Adenine base editors (ABE) have recently emerged as a base editing tool for the conversion of targeted A:T to G:C, but have not yet been used in sheep. ABEmax is one of the latest versions of ABE, which consists of a catalytically-impaired nuclease and a laboratory-evolved DNA-adenosine deaminase. The Booroola fecundity (FecBB) mutation (g.A746G, p.Q249R) in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor 1B (BMPR1B) gene influences fecundity in many sheep breeds. In this study, by using ABEmax we successfully obtained lambs with defined point mutations that result in an amino acid substitution (p.Gln249Arg). The efficiency of the defined point mutations was 75% in newborn lambs, since six lambs were heterozygous at the FecBB mutation site (g.A746G, p.Q249R), and two lambs were wild-type. We did not detect off-target mutations in the eight edited lambs. Here, we report the validation of the first gene-edited sheep generated by ABE and highlight its potential to improve economically important traits in livestock.