Conserved DNA motifs in the type II-A CRISPR leader region.
ABSTRACT: The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats associated (CRISPR-Cas) systems consist of RNA-protein complexes that provide bacteria and archaea with sequence-specific immunity against bacteriophages, plasmids, and other mobile genetic elements. Bacteria and archaea become immune to phage or plasmid infections by inserting short pieces of the intruder DNA (spacer) site-specifically into the leader-repeat junction in a process called adaptation. Previous studies have shown that parts of the leader region, especially the 3' end of the leader, are indispensable for adaptation. However, a comprehensive analysis of leader ends remains absent. Here, we have analyzed the leader, repeat, and Cas proteins from 167 type II-A CRISPR loci. Our results indicate two distinct conserved DNA motifs at the 3' leader end: ATTTGAG (noted previously in the CRISPR1 locus of Streptococcus thermophilus DGCC7710) and a newly defined CTRCGAG, associated with the CRISPR3 locus of S. thermophilus DGCC7710. A third group with a very short CG DNA conservation at the 3' leader end is observed mostly in lactobacilli. Analysis of the repeats and Cas proteins revealed clustering of these CRISPR components that mirrors the leader motif clustering, in agreement with the coevolution of CRISPR-Cas components. Based on our analysis of the type II-A CRISPR loci, we implicate leader end sequences that could confer site-specificity for the adaptation-machinery in the different subsets of type II-A CRISPR loci.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas system, comprised of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats along with their associated (Cas) proteins, protects bacteria and archaea from viral predation and invading nucleic acids. While the mechanism of action for this acquired immunity is currently under investigation, the response of Cas protein expression to phage infection has yet to be elucidated. In this study, we employed shotgun proteomics to measure the global proteome expression in a model system for studying the CRISPR/Cas response in S. thermophilus DGCC7710 infected with phage 2972. Host and viral proteins were simultaneously measured following inoculation at two different multiplicities of infection and across various time points using two-dimensional liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Thirty-seven out of forty predicted viral proteins were detected, including all proteins of the structural virome and viral effector proteins. In total, 1,013 of 2,079 predicted S. thermophilus proteins were detected, facilitating the monitoring of host protein synthesis changes in response to virus infection. Importantly, Cas proteins from all four CRISPR loci in the S. thermophilus DGCC7710 genome were detected, including loci previously thought to be inactive. Many Cas proteins were found to be constitutively expressed, but several demonstrated increased abundance following infection, including the signature Cas9 proteins from the CRISPR1 and CRISPR3 loci, which are key players in the interference phase of the CRISPR/Cas response. Altogether, these results provide novel insights into the proteomic response of S. thermophilus, specifically CRISPR-associated proteins, upon phage 2972 infection.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems are RNA-based immune systems that protect prokaryotes from invaders such as phages and plasmids. In adaptation, the initial phase of the immune response, short foreign DNA fragments are captured and integrated into host CRISPR loci to provide heritable defense against encountered foreign nucleic acids. Each CRISPR contains a ?100-500 bp leader element that typically includes a transcription promoter, followed by an array of captured ?35 bp sequences (spacers) sandwiched between copies of an identical ?35 bp direct repeat sequence. New spacers are added immediately downstream of the leader. Here, we have analyzed adaptation to phage infection in Streptococcus thermophilus at the CRISPR1 locus to identify cis-acting elements essential for the process. We show that the leader and a single repeat of the CRISPR locus are sufficient for adaptation in this system. Moreover, we identified a leader sequence element capable of stimulating adaptation at a dormant repeat. We found that sequences within 10 bp of the site of integration, in both the leader and repeat of the CRISPR, are required for the process. Our results indicate that information at the CRISPR leader-repeat junction is critical for adaptation in this Type II-A system and likely other CRISPR-Cas systems.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems constitute an adaptive immune system that provides acquired resistance against phages and plasmids in prokaryotes. Upon invasion of foreign nucleic acids, some cells integrate short fragments of foreign DNA as spacers into the CRISPR locus to memorize the invaders and acquire resistance in the subsequent round of infection. This immunization step called adaptation is the least understood part of the CRISPR-Cas immunity. We have focused here on the adaptation stage of <i>Streptococcus thermophilus</i> DGCC7710 type I-E CRISPR4-Cas (St4) system. Cas1 and Cas2 proteins conserved in nearly all CRISPR-Cas systems are required for spacer acquisition. The St4 CRISPR-Cas system is unique because the Cas2 protein is fused to an additional DnaQ exonuclease domain. Here, we demonstrate that St4 Cas1 and Cas2-DnaQ form a multimeric complex, which is capable of integrating DNA duplexes with 3'-overhangs (protospacers) <i>in vitro</i> We further show that the DnaQ domain of Cas2 functions as a 3'-5'-exonuclease that processes 3'-overhangs of the protospacer to promote integration.
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:Three cos-type virulent Streptococcus thermophilus phages were isolated from failed mozzarella production in Uruguay. Genome analyses showed that these phages are similar to those isolated elsewhere around the world. The CRISPR1 and CRISPR3 arrays of the three S. thermophilus host strains from Uruguay were also characterized and similarities were noted with previously described model strains SMQ-301, LMD-9 and DGCC7710. Spontaneous bacteriophage-insensitive S. thermophilus mutants (BIMs) were obtained after challenging the phage-sensitive wild-type strain Uy02 with the phage 128 and their CRISPR content was analyzed. Analysis of 23 BIMs indicated that all of them had acquired at least one new spacer in their CRISPR1 array. While 14 BIMs had acquired spacer at the 5'-end of the array, 9 other BIMs acquired a spacer within the array. Comparison of the leader sequence in strains Uy02 and DGCC7710 showed a nucleotide deletion at position -1 in Uy02, which may be responsible for the observed ectopic spacer acquisition. Analysis of the spacer sequences upstream the newly acquired ectopic spacer indicated presence of a conserved adenine residue at position -2. This study indicates that natural strains of S. thermophilus can also acquire spacers within a CRISPR array.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems provide heritable immunity against viruses by capturing short invader DNA sequences, termed spacers, and incorporating them into the CRISPR loci of the prokaryotic host genome. Here, we investigate DNA elements that control accurate spacer uptake in the type II-A CRISPR locus of Streptococcus thermophilus. We determined that purified Cas1 and Cas2 proteins catalyze spacer integration with high specificity for CRISPR repeat junctions. We show that 10 bp of the CRISPR leader sequence is critical for stimulating polarized integration preferentially at the repeat proximal to the leader. Spacer integration proceeds through a two-step transesterification reaction where the 3' hydroxyl groups of the spacer target both repeat borders on opposite strands. The leader-proximal end of the repeat is preferentially targeted for the first site of integration through recognition of sequences spanning the leader-repeat junction. Subsequently, second-site integration at the leader-distal end of the repeat is specified by multiple determinants including a length-defining mechanism relying on a repeat element proximal to the second site of integration. Our results highlight the intrinsic ability of type II Cas1/Cas2 proteins to coordinate directional and site-specific spacer integration into the CRISPR locus to ensure precise duplication of the repeat required for CRISPR immunity.
Project description:The Cas9-crRNA complex of the Streptococcus thermophilus DGCC7710 CRISPR3-Cas system functions as an RNA-guided endonuclease with crRNA-directed target sequence recognition and protein-mediated DNA cleavage. We show here that an additional RNA molecule, tracrRNA (trans-activating CRISPR RNA), co-purifies with the Cas9 protein isolated from the heterologous E. coli strain carrying the S. thermophilus DGCC7710 CRISPR3-Cas system. We provide experimental evidence that tracrRNA is required for Cas9-mediated DNA interference both in vitro and in vivo. We show that Cas9 specifically promotes duplex formation between the precursor crRNA (pre-crRNA) transcript and tracrRNA, in vitro. Furthermore, the housekeeping RNase III contributes to primary pre-crRNA-tracrRNA duplex cleavage for mature crRNA biogenesis. RNase III, however, is not required in the processing of a short pre-crRNA transcribed from a minimal CRISPR array containing a single spacer. Finally, we show that an in vitro-assembled ternary Cas9-crRNA-tracrRNA complex cleaves DNA. This study further specifies the molecular basis for crRNA-based re-programming of Cas9 to specifically cleave any target DNA sequence for precise genome surgery. The processes for crRNA maturation and effector complex assembly established here will contribute to the further development of the Cas9 re-programmable system for genome editing applications.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas adaptive immune system provides resistance against phages and plasmids in Archaea and Bacteria. CRISPR loci integrate short DNA sequences from invading genetic elements that provide small RNA-mediated interference in subsequent exposure to matching nucleic acids. In Streptococcus thermophilus, it was previously shown that the CRISPR1/Cas system can provide adaptive immunity against phages and plasmids by integrating novel spacers following exposure to these foreign genetic elements that subsequently direct the specific cleavage of invasive homologous DNA sequences. Here, we show that the S. thermophilus CRISPR3/Cas system can be transferred into Escherichia coli and provide heterologous protection against plasmid transformation and phage infection. We show that interference is sequence-specific, and that mutations in the vicinity or within the proto-spacer adjacent motif (PAM) allow plasmids to escape CRISPR-encoded immunity. We also establish that cas9 is the sole cas gene necessary for CRISPR-encoded interference. Furthermore, mutation analysis revealed that interference relies on the Cas9 McrA/HNH- and RuvC/RNaseH-motifs. Altogether, our results show that active CRISPR/Cas systems can be transferred across distant genera and provide heterologous interference against invasive nucleic acids. This can be leveraged to develop strains more robust against phage attack, and safer organisms less likely to uptake and disseminate plasmid-encoded undesirable genetic elements.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems provide bacteria and archaea with adaptive immunity against invading genetic elements, such as plasmids, bacteriophages and archaeal viruses. They consist of cas genes and CRISPR loci, which store genetic memories of previously encountered invaders as short sequences termed spacers. Spacers determine the specificity of CRISPR-Cas defence and immunity can be gained or updated by the addition of new spacers into CRISPR loci. There are two main routes to spacer acquisition, which are known as naïve and primed CRISPR adaptation. Naïve CRISPR adaptation involves the de novo formation of immunity, independent of pre-existing spacers. In contrast, primed CRISPR adaptation (priming) uses existing spacers to enhance the acquisition of new spacers. Priming typically results in spacer acquisition from locations near the site of target recognition by the existing (priming) spacer. Primed CRISPR adaptation has been observed in several type I CRISPR-Cas systems and it is potentially widespread. However, experimental evidence is unavailable for some subtypes, and for most systems, priming has only been shown in a small number of hosts. There is also no current evidence of priming by other CRISPR-Cas types. Here, we used a bioinformatic approach to search for evidence of priming in diverse CRISPR-Cas systems. By analysing the clustering of spacers acquired from phages, prophages and archaeal viruses, including strand and directional biases between subsequently acquired spacers, we demonstrate that two patterns of primed CRISPR adaptation dominate in type I systems. In addition, we find evidence of a priming-like pathway in type II CRISPR-Cas systems.
Project description:Integrating short DNA fragments at the correct leader-repeat junction is key to successful CRISPR-Cas memory formation. The Cas1-2 proteins are responsible to carry out this process. However, the CRISPR adaptation process additionally requires a DNA element adjacent to the CRISPR array, called leader, to facilitate efficient localization of the correct integration site. In this work, we introduced the core CRISPR adaptation genes cas1 and cas2 from the Type I-D CRISPR-Cas system of Synechocystis sp. 6803 into Escherichia coli and assessed spacer integration efficiency. Truncation of the leader resulted in a significant reduction of spacer acquisition levels and revealed the importance of different conserved regions for CRISPR adaptation rates. We found three conserved sequence motifs in the leader of I-D CRISPR arrays that each affected spacer acquisition rates, including an integrase anchoring site. Our findings support the model in which the leader sequence is an integral part of type I-D adaptation in Synechocystis sp. acting as a localization signal for the adaptation complex to drive CRISPR adaptation at the first repeat of the CRISPR array.