CRISPR-Cas systems in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 exhibit distinct processing pathways involving at least two Cas6 and a Cmr2 protein.
ABSTRACT: The CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindrome Repeats--CRISPR associated proteins) system provides adaptive immunity in archaea and bacteria. A hallmark of CRISPR-Cas is the involvement of short crRNAs that guide associated proteins in the destruction of invading DNA or RNA. We present three fundamentally distinct processing pathways in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 for a subtype I-D (CRISPR1), and two type III systems (CRISPR2 and CRISPR3), which are located together on the plasmid pSYSA. Using high-throughput transcriptome analyses and assays of transcript accumulation we found all CRISPR loci to be highly expressed, but the individual crRNAs had profoundly varying abundances despite single transcription start sites for each array. In a computational analysis, CRISPR3 spacers with stable secondary structures displayed a greater ratio of degradation products. These structures might interfere with the loading of the crRNAs into RNP complexes, explaining the varying abundancies. The maturation of CRISPR1 and CRISPR2 transcripts depends on at least two different Cas6 proteins. Mutation of gene sll7090, encoding a Cmr2 protein led to the disappearance of all CRISPR3-derived crRNAs, providing in vivo evidence for a function of Cmr2 in the maturation, regulation of expression, Cmr complex formation or stabilization of CRISPR3 transcripts. Finally, we optimized CRISPR repeat structure prediction and the results indicate that the spacer context can influence individual repeat structures.
Project description:A hallmark of defense mechanisms based on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and associated sequences (Cas) are the crRNAs that guide these complexes in the destruction of invading DNA or RNA. Three separate CRISPR-Cas systems exist in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Based on genetic and transcriptomic evidence, two associated endoribonucleases, Cas6-1 and Cas6-2a, were postulated to be involved in crRNA maturation from CRISPR1 or CRISPR2, respectively. Here, we report a promiscuity of both enzymes to process in vitro not only their cognate transcripts, but also the respective non-cognate precursors, whereas they are specific in vivo Moreover, while most of the repeats serving as substrates were cleaved in vitro, some were not. RNA structure predictions suggested that the context sequence surrounding a repeat can interfere with its stable folding. Indeed, structure accuracy calculations of the hairpin motifs within the repeat sequences explained the majority of analyzed cleavage reactions, making this a good measure for predicting successful cleavage events. We conclude that the cleavage of CRISPR1 and CRISPR2 repeat instances requires a stable formation of the characteristic hairpin motif, which is similar between the two types of repeats. The influence of surrounding sequences might partially explain variations in crRNA abundances and should be considered when designing artificial CRISPR arrays.
Project description:Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) are hypervariable loci widely distributed in prokaryotes that provide acquired immunity against foreign genetic elements. Here, we characterize a novel Streptococcus thermophilus locus, CRISPR3, and experimentally demonstrate its ability to integrate novel spacers in response to bacteriophage. Also, we analyze CRISPR diversity and activity across three distinct CRISPR loci in several S. thermophilus strains. We show that both CRISPR repeats and cas genes are locus specific and functionally coupled. A total of 124 strains were studied, and 109 unique spacer arrangements were observed across the three CRISPR loci. Overall, 3,626 spacers were analyzed, including 2,829 for CRISPR1 (782 unique), 173 for CRISPR2 (16 unique), and 624 for CRISPR3 (154 unique). Sequence analysis of the spacers revealed homology and identity to phage sequences (77%), plasmid sequences (16%), and S. thermophilus chromosomal sequences (7%). Polymorphisms were observed for the CRISPR repeats, CRISPR spacers, cas genes, CRISPR motif, locus architecture, and specific sequence content. Interestingly, CRISPR loci evolved both via polarized addition of novel spacers after exposure to foreign genetic elements and via internal deletion of spacers. We hypothesize that the level of diversity is correlated with relative CRISPR activity and propose that the activity is highest for CRISPR1, followed by CRISPR3, while CRISPR2 may be degenerate. Globally, the dynamic nature of CRISPR loci might prove valuable for typing and comparative analyses of strains and microbial populations. Also, CRISPRs provide critical insights into the relationships between prokaryotes and their environments, notably the coevolution of host and viral genomes.
Project description:Clustered, Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and their associated Cas proteins (CRISPR-Cas) provide prokaryotes with a mechanism for defense against mobile genetic elements (MGEs). A CRISPR locus is a molecular memory of MGE encounters. It contains an array of short sequences, called spacers, that generally have sequence identity to MGEs. Three different CRISPR loci have been identified among strains of the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. CRISPR1 and CRISPR3 are associated with the cas genes necessary for blocking MGEs, but these loci are present in only a subset of E. faecalis strains. The orphan CRISPR2 lacks cas genes and is ubiquitous in E. faecalis, although its spacer content varies from strain to strain. Because CRISPR2 is a variable locus occurring in all E. faecalis, comparative analysis of CRISPR2 sequences may provide information about the clonality of E. faecalis strains. We examined CRISPR2 sequences from 228 E. faecalis genomes in relationship to subspecies phylogenetic lineages (sequence types; STs) determined by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and to a genome phylogeny generated for a representative 71 genomes. We found that specific CRISPR2 sequences are associated with specific STs and with specific branches on the genome tree. To explore possible applications of CRISPR2 analysis, we evaluated 14 E. faecalis bloodstream isolates using CRISPR2 analysis and MLST. CRISPR2 analysis identified two groups of clonal strains among the 14 isolates, an assessment that was confirmed by MLST. CRISPR2 analysis was also used to accurately predict the ST of a subset of isolates. We conclude that CRISPR2 analysis, while not a replacement for MLST, is an inexpensive method to assess clonality among E. faecalis isolates, and can be used in conjunction with MLST to identify recombination events occurring between STs.
Project description:Streptococcus thermophilus, similar to other Bacteria and Archaea, has developed defense mechanisms to protect cells against invasion by foreign nucleic acids, such as virus infections and plasmid transformations. One defense system recently described in these organisms is the CRISPR-Cas system (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats loci coupled to CRISPR-associated genes). Two S. thermophilus CRISPR-Cas systems, CRISPR1-Cas and CRISPR3-Cas, have been shown to actively block phage infection. The CRISPR1-Cas system interferes by cleaving foreign dsDNA entering the cell in a length-specific and orientation-dependant manner. Here, we show that the S. thermophilus CRISPR3-Cas system acts by cleaving phage dsDNA genomes at the same specific position inside the targeted protospacer as observed with the CRISPR1-Cas system. Only one cleavage site was observed in all tested strains. Moreover, we observed that the CRISPR1-Cas and CRISPR3-Cas systems are compatible and, when both systems are present within the same cell, provide increased resistance against phage infection by both cleaving the invading dsDNA. We also determined that overall phage resistance efficiency is correlated to the total number of newly acquired spacers in both CRISPR loci.
Project description:Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains (n = 194) representing 43 serotypes and E. coli K-12 were examined for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) arrays to study genetic relatedness among STEC serotypes. A subset of the strains (n = 81) was further analyzed for subtype I-E cas and virulence genes to determine a possible association of CRISPR elements with potential virulence. Four types of CRISPR arrays were identified. CRISPR1 and CRISPR2 were present in all strains tested; 1 strain also had both CRISPR3 and CRISPR4, whereas 193 strains displayed a short, combined array, CRISPR3-4. A total of 3,353 spacers were identified, representing 528 distinct spacers. The average length of a spacer was 32 bp. Approximately one-half of the spacers (54%) were unique and found mostly in strains of less common serotypes. Overall, CRISPR spacer contents correlated well with STEC serotypes, and identical arrays were shared between strains with the same H type (O26:H11, O103:H11, and O111:H11). There was no association identified between the presence of subtype I-E cas and virulence genes, but the total number of spacers had a negative correlation with potential pathogenicity (P < 0.05). Fewer spacers were found in strains that had a greater probability of causing outbreaks and disease than in those with lower virulence potential (P < 0.05). The relationship between the CRISPR-cas system and potential virulence needs to be determined on a broader scale, and the biological link will need to be established.
Project description:<i>Streptococcus thermophilus</i> relies heavily on two type II-A CRISPR-Cas systems, CRISPR1 and CRISPR3, to resist siphophage infections. One hallmark of these systems is the integration of a new spacer at the 5' end of the CRISPR arrays following phage infection. However, we have previously shown that ectopic acquisition of spacers can occur within the CRISPR1 array. Here, we present evidence of the acquisition of new spacers within the array of CRISPR3 of <i>S. thermophilus</i>. The analysis of randomly selected bacteriophage-insensitive mutants of the strain Uy01 obtained after phage infection, as well as the comparison with other <i>S. thermophilus</i> strains with similar CRISPR3 content, showed that a specific spacer within the array could be responsible for misguiding the adaptation complex. These results also indicate that while the vast majority of new spacers are added at the 5' end of the CRISPR array, ectopic spacer acquisition is a common feature of both CRISPR1 and CRISPR3 systems in <i>S. thermophilus</i>, and it can still provide phage resistance. Ectopic spacer acquisition also appears to have occurred naturally in some strains of <i>Streptococcus pyogenes</i>, suggesting that it is a general phenomenon, at least in type II-A systems.
Project description:Helicobacter cinaedi is associated with nosocomial infections. The CRISPR-Cas system provides adaptive immunity against foreign genetic elements. We investigated the CRISPR-Cas system in H. cinaedi to assess the potential of the CRISPR-based microevolution of H. cinaedi strains. A genotyping method based on CRISPR spacer organization was carried out using 42 H. cinaedi strains. The results of sequence analysis showed that the H. cinaedi strains used in this study had two CRISPR loci (CRISPR1 and CRISPR2). The lengths of the consensus direct repeat sequences in CRISPR1 and CRISPR2 were both 36 bp-long, and 224 spacers were found in the 42 H. cinaedi strains. Analysis of the organization and sequence similarity of the spacers of the H. cinaedi strains showed that CRISPR arrays could be divided into 7 different genotypes. Each genotype had a different ancestral spacer, and spacer acquisition/deletion events occurred while isolates were spreading. Spacer polymorphisms of conserved arrays across the strains were instrumental for differentiating closely-related strains collected from the same hospital. MLST had little variability, while the CRISPR sequences showed remarkable diversity. Our data revealed the structural features of H. cinaedi CRISPR loci for the first time. CRISPR sequences constitute a valuable basis for genotyping, provide insights into the divergence and relatedness between closely-related strains, and reflect the microevolutionary process of H. cinaedi.
Project description:Enterococcus faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen and a leading cause of nosocomial infections. Conjugative pheromone-responsive plasmids are narrow-host-range mobile genetic elements (MGEs) that are rapid disseminators of antibiotic resistance in the faecalis species. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas and restriction-modification confer acquired and innate immunity, respectively, against MGE acquisition in bacteria. Most multidrug-resistant E. faecalis isolates lack CRISPR-Cas and possess an orphan locus lacking cas genes, CRISPR2, that is of unknown function. Little is known about restriction-modification defense in E. faecalis. Here, we explore the hypothesis that multidrug-resistant E. faecalis strains are immunocompromised. We assessed MGE acquisition by E. faecalis T11, a strain closely related to the multidrug-resistant hospital isolate V583 but which lacks the ~620 kb of horizontally acquired genome content that characterizes V583. T11 possesses the E. faecalis CRISPR3-cas locus and a predicted restriction-modification system, neither of which occurs in V583. We demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas and restriction-modification together confer a 4-log reduction in acquisition of the pheromone-responsive plasmid pAM714 in biofilm matings. Additionally, we show that the orphan CRISPR2 locus is functional for genome defense against another pheromone-responsive plasmid, pCF10, only in the presence of cas9 derived from the E. faecalis CRISPR1-cas locus, which most multidrug-resistant E. faecalis isolates lack. Overall, our work demonstrated that the loss of only two loci led to a dramatic reduction in genome defense against a clinically relevant MGE, highlighting the critical importance of the E. faecalis accessory genome in modulating horizontal gene transfer. Our results rationalize the development of antimicrobial strategies that capitalize upon the immunocompromised status of multidrug-resistant E. faecalis. IMPORTANCE Enterococcus faecalis is a bacterium that normally inhabits the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Although these bacteria are members of our native gut flora, they can cause life-threatening infections in hospitalized patients. Antibiotic resistance genes appear to be readily shared among high-risk E. faecalis strains, and multidrug resistance in these bacteria limits treatment options for infections. Here, we find that CRISPR-Cas and restriction-modification systems, which function as adaptive and innate immune systems in bacteria, significantly impact the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in E. faecalis populations. The loss of these systems in high-risk E. faecalis suggests that they are immunocompromised, a tradeoff that allows them to readily acquire new genes and adapt to new antibiotics.
Project description:In many bacteria and archaea, an adaptive immune system (CRISPR-Cas) provides immunity against foreign genetic elements. This system uses CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) derived from the CRISPR array, along with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins, to target foreign nucleic acids. In most CRISPR systems, endonucleolytic processing of crRNA precursors (pre-crRNAs) is essential for the pathway. Here we study the Cas6 endonuclease responsible for crRNA processing in the Type III-A CRISPR-Cas system from Staphylococcus epidermidis RP62a, a model for Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems, and define substrate requirements for SeCas6 activity. We find that SeCas6 is necessary and sufficient for full-length crRNA biogenesis in vitro, and that it relies on both sequence and stem-loop structure in the 3' half of the CRISPR repeat for recognition and processing.
Project description:An RNA-based screen was performed to reveal a possible evolutionary scenario for the CRISPR-Cas systems in two cyanobacterial model strains. Following the analysis of a draft genome sequence of Synechocystis sp PCC6714, three different CRISPR-Cas systems were characterized that have different degrees of relatedness to another three CRISPR-Cas systems in Synechocystis sp PCC6803. A subtype III-B system was identified that is extremely conserved between both strains. Strong signals in northern hybridizations and the presence of different spacers (but identical repeats) indicated this system to be active, despite the absence of a known endonuclease candidate gene involved in the maturation of its crRNAs in the two strains. The other two systems were found to differ significantly from each other, with different sets of repeat-spacer arrays and different Cas genes. In view of the otherwise very close relatedness of the two analyzed strains, this is suggestive of an unknown mechanism involved in the replacement of CRISPR-Cas cassettes as a whole. Further RNA analyses revealed the accumulation of crRNAs to be impacted by environmental conditions critical for photoautotropic growth. All six systems are associated with a gene for a possible transcriptional repressor. Indeed, we identified one of these genes, sll7009, as encoding a negative regulator specific for the CRISPR1 subtype I-D system in Synechocystis sp PCC6803.