RNA-guided gene drives can efficiently bias inheritance in wild yeast
James E DiCarlo, Alejandro Chavez, Sven L Dietz, Kevin M Esvelt, George M Church
Inheritance-biasing elements known as “gene drives” may be capable of spreading genomic alterations made in laboratory organisms through wild populations. We previously considered the potential for RNA-guided gene drives based on the versatile CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system to serve as a general method of altering populations. Here we report molecularly contained gene drive constructs in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are typically copied at rates above 99% when mated to wild yeast. We successfully targeted both non-essential and essential genes and showed that the inheritance of an unrelated “cargo” gene could be biased by an adjacent drive. Our results demonstrate that RNA-guided gene drives are capable of efficiently biasing inheritance when mated to wild-type organisms over successive generations.