The basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans is not only a clinically important pathogen, but also a model organism for studying microbial pathogenesis and eukaryotic biology. One key factor behind its rise as a model organism is its genetic amenability. The widely used methods for transforming the C. neoformans species complex are Agrobacterium-mediated transformation (AMT) for random insertional mutagenesis and biolistic transformation for targeted mutagenesis. Electroporation was introduced to C. neoformans in early 1990s. Although electroporation is economic and yields a large number of transformants, introduced DNA rarely integrates into cryptococcal genome, which limits its use. Biolistic transformation, although costly and inefficient, has been the only method used in targeted mutagenesis in the past two decades. Several modifications, including the use of a donor DNA with split markers, a drug-resistant selection marker, and a recipient strain deficient in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), have since modestly increased the frequency of genome integration and the rate of homologous replacement of the DNA introduced by electroporation. However, electroporation was not the method of choice for transformation until the recent adoption of CRISPR-Cas9 systems. We have developed a Transient CRISPR-Cas9 coupled with Electroporation System (TRACE), which dramatically facilitates targeted mutagenesis in the Cryptococcus species complex. TRACE combines the high transformation efficiency of electroporation with the high rates of DNA integration due to the transiently expressed CRISPR-Cas9. Here, we briefly discussed the history of electroporation for Cryptococcus transformation and provided detailed procedures for electroporation and the cassettes construction of the TRACE system for various genetic manipulations.
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