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J Mol Biol. 2019 Jan 4;431(1):3-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.08.030. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

CRISPR-Cas: Complex Functional Networks and Multiple Roles beyond Adaptive Immunity.

Author information

1
National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA.
2
National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA. Electronic address: koonin@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas is a prokaryotic adaptive immune system that functions by incorporating fragments of foreign DNA into CRISPR arrays. The arrays containing spacers derived from foreign DNA are transcribed, and the transcripts are processed to generate spacer-containing mature CRISPR-RNAs that are employed as guides to specifically recognize and cleave the DNA or RNA of the cognate parasitic genetic elements. The CRISPR-Cas systems show remarkable complexity and diversity of molecular organization and appear to be involved in various cellular functions that are distinct from, even if connected to, adaptive immunity. In this review, we discuss some of such functional links of CRISPR-Cas systems including their effect on horizontal gene transfer that can be either inhibitory or stimulatory, connections between CRISPR-Cas and DNA repair systems as well as programmed cell death and signal transduction mechanisms, and potential role of CRISPR-Cas in transposon integration and plasmid maintenance. The interplay between the primary function of CRISPR-Cas as an adaptive immunity mechanism and these other roles defines the richness of the biological effects of these systems and affects their spread among bacteria and archaea.

KEYWORDS:

CRISPR–Cas; DNA repair; programmed cell death; signal transduction; transposable elements

PMID:
30193985
DOI:
10.1016/j.jmb.2018.08.030
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