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Mol Microbiol. 2014 Jun;92(5):1072-91. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12614. Epub 2014 May 2.

CRP represses the CRISPR/Cas system in Escherichia coli: evidence that endogenous CRISPR spacers impede phage P1 replication.

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Department of Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, Hsin-Chu, 300, Taiwan.


The CRISPR/Cas system is an important aspect in bacterial immunology. The anti-phage activity of the CRISPR system has been established using synthetic CRISPR spacers, but in vivo studies of endogenous CRISPR spacers are relatively scarce. Here, we showed that bacteriophage P1 titre in Escherichia coli decreased in the glucose-containing medium compared with that in the absence of glucose. This glucose effect of E. coli against phage P1 infection disappeared in cse3 deletion mutants. The effect on the susceptibility to phage P1 was associated with cAMP receptor protein (CRP)-mediated repression of cas genes transcription and crRNA maturation. Analysis of the regulatory element in the cse1 promoter region revealed a novel CRP binding site, which overlapped with a LeuO binding site. Furthermore, the limited sequence identity between endogenous spacers and the phage P1 genome was necessary and sufficient for CRISPR-mediated repression of phage P1 replication. Trans-expression of the third and seventh spacers in the CRISPR I region or third and sixth spacers in the CRISPR II region effectively reduced phage P1 titres in the CRISPR deletion mutants. These results demonstrate a novel regulatory mechanism for cas repression by CRP and provide evidence that endogenous spacers can repress phage P1 replication in E. coli.

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