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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Nov 5;371(1707). pii: 20150496. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0496.

CRISPR-Cas: biology, mechanisms and relevance.

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Department of Regulation in Infection Biology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin 10117, Germany.
Department of Regulation in Infection Biology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin 10117, Germany The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR), Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Umeå 90187, Sweden


Prokaryotes have evolved several defence mechanisms to protect themselves from viral predators. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and their associated proteins (Cas) display a prokaryotic adaptive immune system that memorizes previous infections by integrating short sequences of invading genomes-termed spacers-into the CRISPR locus. The spacers interspaced with repeats are expressed as small guide CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) that are employed by Cas proteins to target invaders sequence-specifically upon a reoccurring infection. The ability of the minimal CRISPR-Cas9 system to target DNA sequences using programmable RNAs has opened new avenues in genome editing in a broad range of cells and organisms with high potential in therapeutical applications. While numerous scientific studies have shed light on the biochemical processes behind CRISPR-Cas systems, several aspects of the immunity steps, however, still lack sufficient understanding. This review summarizes major discoveries in the CRISPR-Cas field, discusses the role of CRISPR-Cas in prokaryotic immunity and other physiological properties, and describes applications of the system as a DNA editing technology and antimicrobial agent.This article is part of the themed issue 'The new bacteriology'.


CRISPR; Cas9; bacteriophage; genome editing

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