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    Observations of actin dynamics in living cells using fluorescence microscopy have been foundational in the exploration of the mechanisms underlying cell migration. We used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to generate neutrophil-like HL-60 cell lines expressing GFP-β-actin from the endogenous locus (ACTB). In light of many previous reports outlining functional deficiencies of labeled actin, we anticipated that HL-60 cells would only tolerate a monoallelic edit, as biallelic edited cells would produce no normal β-actin. Surprisingly, we recovered viable monoallelic GFP-β-actin cells as well as biallelic edited GFP-β-actin cells, in which one copy of the ACTB gene is silenced and the other contains the GFP tag. Furthermore, the edited cells migrate with similar speeds and persistence as unmodified cells in a variety of motility assays, and have nearly normal cell shapes. These results might partially be explained by our observation that GFP-β-actin incorporates into the F-actin network in biallelic edited cells at similar efficiencies as normal β-actin in unedited cells. Additionally, the edited cells significantly upregulate γ-actin, perhaps helping to compensate for the loss of normal β-actin. Interestingly, biallelic edited cells have only modest changes in global gene expression relative to the monoallelic line, as measured by RNA sequencing. While monoallelic edited cells downregulate expression of the tagged allele and are thus only weakly fluorescent, biallelic edited cells are quite bright and well-suited for live cell microscopy. The nondisruptive phenotype and direct interpretability of this fluorescent tagging approach make it a promising tool for studying actin dynamics in these rapidly migrating and highly phagocytic cells. © 2020 The Authors. Cytoskeleton published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


    Rikki M Garner, Gemini Skariah, Amalia Hadjitheodorou, Nathan M Belliveau, Andrew Savinov, Matthew J Footer, Julie A Theriot. Neutrophil-like HL-60 cells expressing only GFP-tagged β-actin exhibit nearly normal motility. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.). 2020 May;77(5-6):181-196

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    PMID: 32072765

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