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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Sep 17;105(12):128102. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Heterogeneous diversity of spacers within CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats).

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA.


Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) in bacterial and archaeal DNA have recently been shown to be a new type of antiviral immune system in these organisms. We here study the diversity of spacers in CRISPR under selective pressure. We propose a population dynamics model that explains the biological observation that the leader-proximal end of CRISPR is more diversified and the leader-distal end of CRISPR is more conserved. This result is shown to be in agreement with recent experiments. Our results show that the CRISPR spacer structure is influenced by and provides a record of the viral challenges that bacteria face.

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