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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Mar;6(3):181-6.

CRISPR--a widespread system that provides acquired resistance against phages in bacteria and archaea.

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  • 1Rotem Sorek, Victor Kunin and Philip Hugenholtz are at the Joint Genome Institute, 2800 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, California 94598, USA.


Arrays of clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) are widespread in the genomes of many bacteria and almost all archaea. These arrays are composed of direct repeats that are separated by similarly sized non-repetitive spacers. CRISPR arrays, together with a group of associated proteins, confer resistance to phages, possibly by an RNA-interference-like mechanism. This Progress discusses the structure and function of this newly recognized antiviral mechanism.

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