Genetic characterization of antiplasmid immunity through a type III-A CRISPR-Cas system.
ABSTRACT: Many prokaryotes possess an adaptive immune system encoded by clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs). CRISPR loci produce small guide RNAs (crRNAs) that, in conjunction with flanking CRISPR-associated (cas) genes, combat viruses and block plasmid transfer by an antisense targeting mechanism. CRISPR-Cas systems have been classified into three types (I to III) that employ distinct mechanisms of crRNA biogenesis and targeting. The type III-A system in Staphylococcus epidermidis RP62a blocks the transfer of staphylococcal conjugative plasmids and harbors nine cas-csm genes. Previous biochemical analysis indicated that Cas10, Csm2, Csm3, Csm4, and Csm5 form a crRNA-containing ribonucleoprotein complex; however, the roles of these genes toward antiplasmid targeting remain unknown. Here, we determined the cas-csm genes that are required for antiplasmid immunity and used genetic and biochemical analyses to investigate the functions of predicted motifs and domains within these genes. We found that many mutations affected immunity by impacting the formation of the Cas10-Csm complex or crRNA biogenesis. Surprisingly, mutations in the predicted nuclease domains of the members of the Cas10-Csm complex had no detectable effect on antiplasmid immunity or crRNA biogenesis. In contrast, the deletion of csm6 and mutations in the cas10 Palm polymerase domain prevented CRISPR immunity without affecting either complex formation or crRNA production, suggesting their involvement in target destruction. By delineating the genetic requirements of this system, our findings further contribute to the mechanistic understanding of type III CRISPR-Cas systems.
Project description:CRISPR–Cas (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated proteins) is a prokaryotic immune system that destroys foreign nucleic acids in a sequence-specific manner using Cas nucleases guided by short RNAs (crRNAs). Staphylococcus epidermidis harbours a Type III-A CRISPR–Cas system that encodes the Cas10–Csm interference complex and crRNAs that are subjected to multiple processing steps. The final step, called maturation, involves a concerted effort between Csm3, a ruler protein in Cas10–Csm that measures six-nucleotide increments, and the activity of a nuclease(s) that remains unknown. Here, we elucidate the contributions of the Cas10–Csm complex toward maturation and explore roles of non-Cas nucleases in this process. Using genetic and biochemical approaches, we show that charged residues in Csm3 facilitate its self-assembly and dictate the extent of maturation cleavage. Additionally, acidic residues in Csm5 are required for efficient maturation, but recombinant Csm5 fails to cleave crRNAs in vitro. However, we detected cellular nucleases that co-purify with Cas10–Csm, and show that Csm5 regulates their activities through distinct mechanisms. Altogether, our results support roles for non-Cas nuclease(s) during crRNA maturation and establish a link between Type III-A CRISPR–Cas immunity and central nucleic acid metabolism.
Project description:The type III CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated genes) systems are bacterially encoded adaptive immune systems for defense against invading nucleic acids. They accomplish this task through the coordinated cleavage of invading substrates of single-stranded RNA and DNA (ssDNA and ssRNA) by the Csm (type III-A) or Cmr (type III-B) effector complexes. The ssRNA is complementarily bound to the CRISPR RNA (crRNA). However, the structural basis for the DNase and RNase activation of the Csm nucleoprotein complex is largely unknown. Here we report cryo-EM structures of the Csm-crRNA complex, with or without target ssRNA, at near-atomic resolution. Our cryo-EM maps allow us to build atomic models of the key macromolecular components, including Cas10, Csm2, Csm3, Csm4, crRNA and the invading ssRNA. Our structure resolves unambiguously the stoichiometry and tertiary structures of the Csm protein complex and the interactions between protein components and the crRNA/ssRNA. Interestingly, the new atomic structures of the Csm proteins presented here are similar to those of previously known Csm proteins in other species despite their low sequence similarity. Our combined structural and biochemical data suggest that ssRNA cleavage is preferentially carried out near its 5'-end, that the extent of interactions among the ssRNA, crRNA and the protein components regulates the DNase activity of the Csm complex, and that the 3' flanking sequence of ssRNA activates the Cas10 DNase activity allosterically.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated proteins) is a class of prokaryotic immune systems that degrade foreign nucleic acids in a sequence-specific manner. These systems rely upon ribonucleoprotein complexes composed of Cas nucleases and small CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs). Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus are bacterial residents on human skin that are also leading causes of antibiotic resistant infections (Lowy, 1998; National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance, 2004; Otto, 2009). Many staphylococci possess Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems (Marraffini and Sontheimer, 2008; Cao et al., 2016), which have been shown to prevent plasmid transfer and protect against viral predators (Goldberg et al., 2014; Hatoum-Aslan et al., 2014; Samai et al., 2015) in these organisms. Thus, gaining a mechanistic understanding of these systems in the native staphylococcal background can lead to important insights into the factors that impact the evolution and survival of these pathogens. Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems encode a five-subunit effector complex called Cas10-Csm (Hatoum-Aslan et al., 2013). Here, we describe a protocol for the expression and purification of Cas10-Csm from its native S. epidermidis background or a heterologous S. aureus background. The method consists of a two-step purification protocol involving Ni2+-affinity chromatography and a DNA affinity biotin pull-down, which together yield a pure preparation of the Cas10-Csm complex. This approach has been used previously to analyze the effects of mutations on Cas10-Csm complex integrity (Hatoum-Aslan et al., 2014), crRNA formation (Hatoum-Aslan et al., 2013), and to detect binding partners that directly interact with the core Cas10-Csm complex (Walker et al., 2016). Importantly, this approach can be easily adapted for use in other Staphylococcus species to probe and understand their native Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems.
Project description:Immune systems must recognize and destroy different pathogens that threaten the host. CRISPR-Cas immune systems protect prokaryotes from viral and plasmid infection utilizing small CRISPR RNAs that are complementary to the invader's genome and specify the targets of RNA-guided Cas nucleases. Type III CRISPR-Cas immunity requires target transcription, and whereas genetic studies demonstrated DNA targeting, in vitro data have shown crRNA-guided RNA cleavage. The molecular mechanism behind these disparate activities is not known. Here, we show that transcription across the targets of the Staphylococcus epidermidis type III-A CRISPR-Cas system results in the cleavage of the target DNA and its transcripts, mediated by independent active sites within the Cas10-Csm ribonucleoprotein effector complex. Immunity against plasmids and DNA viruses requires DNA, but not RNA, cleavage activity. Our studies reveal a highly versatile mechanism of CRISPR immunity that can defend microorganisms against diverse DNA and RNA invaders.
Project description:Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems employ the Cas10-Csm complex to destroy bacteriophages and plasmids, using a guide RNA to locate complementary RNA molecules from the invader and trigger an immune response that eliminates the infecting DNA. In addition, these systems possess the non-specific RNase Csm6, which provides further protection for the host. While the role of Csm6 in immunity during phage infection has been determined, how this RNase is used against plasmids is unclear. Here, we show that Staphylococcus epidermidis Csm6 is required for immunity when transcription across the plasmid target is infrequent, leading to impaired target recognition and inefficient DNA degradation by the Cas10-Csm complex. In these conditions, Csm6 causes growth arrest in the host and prevents further plasmid replication through the indiscriminate degradation of host and plasmid transcripts. In contrast, when plasmid target sequences are efficiently transcribed, Csm6 is dispensable and DNA degradation by Cas10 is sufficient for anti-plasmid immunity. Csm6 therefore provides robustness to the type III-A CRISPR-Cas immune response against difficult targets for the Cas10-Csm complex.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated) systems are RNA-guided adaptive immunity pathways used by bacteria and archaea to defend against phages and plasmids. Type III-A systems use a multisubunit interference complex called Csm, containing Cas proteins and a CRISPR RNA (crRNA) to target cognate nucleic acids. The Csm complex is intriguing in that it mediates RNA-guided targeting of both RNA and transcriptionally active DNA, but the mechanism is not well understood. Here, we overexpressed the five components of the Thermus thermophilus (T. thermophilus) Type III-A Csm complex (TthCsm) with a defined crRNA sequence, and purified intact TthCsm complexes from E. coli cells. The complexes were thermophilic, targeting complementary ssRNA more efficiently at 65°C than at 37°C. Sequence-independent, endonucleolytic cleavage of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) by TthCsm was triggered by recognition of a complementary ssRNA, and required a lack of complementarity between the first 8 nucleotides (5' tag) of the crRNA and the 3' flanking region of the ssRNA. Mutation of the histidine-aspartate (HD) nuclease domain of the TthCsm subunit, Cas10/Csm1, abolished DNA cleavage. Activation of DNA cleavage was dependent on RNA binding but not cleavage. This leads to a model in which binding of an ssRNA target to the Csm complex would stimulate cleavage of exposed ssDNA in the cell, such as could occur when the RNA polymerase unwinds double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) during transcription. Our findings establish an amenable, thermostable system for more in-depth investigation of the targeting mechanism using structural biology methods, such as cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography.
Project description:CRISPR (cluster of regularly interspaced palindromic repeats) is a prokaryotic adaptive defence system, providing immunity against mobile genetic elements such as viruses. Genomically encoded crRNA (CRISPR RNA) is used by Cas (CRISPR-associated) proteins to target and subsequently degrade nucleic acids of invading entities in a sequence-dependent manner. The process is known as 'interference'. In the present review we cover recent progress on the structural biology of the CRISPR/Cas system, focusing on the Cas proteins and complexes that catalyse crRNA biogenesis and interference. Structural studies have helped in the elucidation of key mechanisms, including the recognition and cleavage of crRNA by the Cas6 and Cas5 proteins, where remarkable diversity at the level of both substrate recognition and catalysis has become apparent. The RNA-binding RAMP (repeat-associated mysterious protein) domain is present in the Cas5, Cas6, Cas7 and Cmr3 protein families and RAMP-like domains are found in Cas2 and Cas10. Structural analysis has also revealed an evolutionary link between the small subunits of the type I and type III-B interference complexes. Future studies of the interference complexes and their constituent components will transform our understanding of the system.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas systems provide invader defense in a wide variety of prokaryotes, as well as technologies for many powerful applications. The Type III-A or Csm CRISPR-Cas system is one of the most widely distributed across prokaryotic phyla, and cleaves targeted DNA and RNA molecules. In this work, we have constructed modules of Csm systems from 3 bacterial species and heterologously expressed the functional modules in E. coli. The modules include a Cas6 protein and a CRISPR locus for crRNA production, and Csm effector complex proteins. The expressed modules from L. lactis, S. epidermidis and S. thermophilus specifically eliminate invading plasmids recognized by the crRNAs of the systems. Characteristically, activation of plasmid targeting activity depends on transcription of the plasmid sequence recognized by the crRNA. Activity was not observed when transcription of the crRNA target sequence was blocked, or when the opposite strand or a non-target sequence was transcribed. Moreover, the Csm module can be programmed to recognize plasmids with novel target sequences by addition of appropriate crRNA coding sequences to the module. These systems provide a platform for investigation of Type III-A CRISPR-Cas systems in E. coli, and for introduction of programmable transcription-activated DNA targeting into novel organisms.
Project description:The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) system is an adaptive immune system in prokaryotes. Interference complexes encoded by CRISPR-associated (cas) genes utilize small RNAs for homology-directed detection and subsequent degradation of invading genetic elements, and they have been classified into three main types (I-III). Type III complexes share the Cas10 subunit but are subclassifed as type IIIA (CSM) and type IIIB (CMR), depending on their specificity for DNA or RNA targets, respectively. The role of CSM in limiting the spread of conjugative plasmids in Staphylococcus epidermidis was first described in 2008. Here, we report a detailed investigation of the composition and structure of the CSM complex from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus, using a combination of electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and deep sequencing. This reveals a three-dimensional model for the CSM complex that includes a helical component strikingly reminiscent of the backbone structure of the type I (Cascade) family.
Project description:Csm, a type III-A CRISPR-Cas interference complex, is a CRISPR RNA (crRNA)-guided RNase that also possesses target RNA-dependent DNase and cyclic oligoadenylate (cOA) synthetase activities. However, the structural features allowing target RNA-binding-dependent activation of DNA cleavage and cOA generation remain unknown. Here, we report the structure of Csm in complex with crRNA together with structures of cognate or non-cognate target RNA bound Csm complexes. We show that depending on complementarity with the 5' tag of crRNA, the 3' anti-tag region of target RNA binds at two distinct sites of the Csm complex. Importantly, the interaction between the non-complementary anti-tag region of cognate target RNA and Csm1 induces a conformational change at the Csm1 subunit that allosterically activates DNA cleavage and cOA generation. Together, our structural studies provide crucial insights into the mechanistic processes required for crRNA-meditated sequence-specific RNA cleavage, RNA target-dependent non-specific DNA cleavage, and cOA generation.