Types I and V Anti-CRISPR Proteins: From Phage Defense to Eukaryotic Synthetic Gene Circuits.
ABSTRACT: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), a prokaryotic RNA-mediated adaptive immune system, has been repurposed for gene editing and synthetic gene circuit construction both in bacterial and eukaryotic cells. In the last years, the emergence of the anti-CRISPR proteins (Acrs), which are natural OFF-switches for CRISPR-Cas, has provided a new means to control CRISPR-Cas activity and promoted a further development of CRISPR-Cas-based biotechnological toolkits. In this review, we focus on type I and type V-A anti-CRISPR proteins. We first narrate Acrs discovery and analyze their inhibitory mechanisms from a structural perspective. Then, we describe their applications in gene editing and transcription regulation. Finally, we discuss the potential future usage-and corresponding possible challenges-of these two kinds of anti-CRISPR proteins in eukaryotic synthetic gene circuits.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas are adaptive bacterial and archaeal immunity systems that have been harnessed for the development of powerful genome editing and engineering tools. In the incessant host-parasite arms race, viruses evolved multiple anti-defense mechanisms including diverse anti-CRISPR proteins (Acrs) that specifically inhibit CRISPR-Cas and therefore have enormous potential for application as modulators of genome editing tools. Most Acrs are small and highly variable proteins which makes their bioinformatic prediction a formidable task. We present a machine-learning approach for comprehensive Acr prediction. The model shows high predictive power when tested against an unseen test set and was employed to predict 2,500 candidate Acr families. Experimental validation of top candidates revealed two unknown Acrs (AcrIC9, IC10) and three other top candidates were coincidentally identified and found to possess anti-CRISPR activity. These results substantially expand the repertoire of predicted Acrs and provide a resource for experimental Acr discovery.
Project description:Anti-CRISPRs (Acrs) are small proteins that inhibit the RNA-guided DNA targeting activity of CRISPR-Cas enzymes. Encoded by bacteriophage and phage-derived bacterial genes, Acrs prevent CRISPR-mediated inhibition of phage infection and can also block CRISPR-Cas-mediated genome editing in eukaryotic cells. To identify Acrs capable of inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 (SauCas9), an alternative to the most commonly used genome editing protein Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpyCas9), we used both self-targeting CRISPR screening and guilt-by-association genomic search strategies. Here we describe three potent inhibitors of SauCas9 that we name AcrIIA13, AcrIIA14, and AcrIIA15. These inhibitors share a conserved N-terminal sequence that is dispensable for DNA cleavage inhibition and have divergent C termini that are required in each case for inhibition of SauCas9-catalyzed DNA cleavage. In human cells, we observe robust inhibition of SauCas9-induced genome editing by AcrIIA13 and moderate inhibition by AcrIIA14 and AcrIIA15. We also find that the conserved N-terminal domain of AcrIIA13-AcrIIA15 binds to an inverted repeat sequence in the promoter of these Acr genes, consistent with its predicted helix-turn-helix DNA binding structure. These data demonstrate an effective strategy for Acr discovery and establish AcrIIA13-AcrIIA15 as unique bifunctional inhibitors of SauCas9.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems are bacterial anti-viral systems, and bacterial viruses (bacteriophages, phages) can carry anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins to evade that immunity. Acrs can also fine-tune the activity of CRISPR-based genome-editing tools. While Acrs are prevalent in phages capable of lying dormant in a CRISPR-carrying host, their orthologs have been observed only infrequently in virulent phages. Here we identify AcrIIA6, an Acr encoded in 33% of virulent Streptococcus thermophilus phage genomes. The X-ray structure of AcrIIA6 displays some features unique to this Acr family. We compare the activity of AcrIIA6 to those of other Acrs, including AcrIIA5 (also from S. thermophilus phages), and characterize their effectiveness against a range of CRISPR-Cas systems. Finally, we demonstrate that both Acr families from S. thermophilus phages inhibit Cas9-mediated genome editing of human cells.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems provide bacteria and archaea with programmable immunity against mobile genetic elements. Evolutionary pressure by CRISPR-Cas has driven bacteriophage to evolve small protein inhibitors, anti-CRISPRs (Acrs), that block Cas enzyme function by wide-ranging mechanisms. We show here that the inhibitor AcrVA4 uses a previously undescribed strategy to recognize the L. bacterium Cas12a (LbCas12a) pre-crRNA processing nuclease, forming a Cas12a dimer, and allosterically inhibiting DNA binding. The Ac. species Cas12a (AsCas12a) enzyme, widely used for genome editing applications, contains an ancestral helical bundle that blocks AcrVA4 binding and allows it to escape anti-CRISPR recognition. Using biochemical, microbiological, and human cell editing experiments, we show that Cas12a orthologs can be rendered either sensitive or resistant to AcrVA4 through rational structural engineering informed by evolution. Together, these findings explain a new mode of CRISPR-Cas inhibition and illustrate how structural variability in Cas effectors can drive opportunistic co-evolution of inhibitors by bacteriophage.
Project description:Repurposed CRISPR-Cas molecules provide a useful tool set for broad applications of genomic editing and regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Recent discovery of phage-derived proteins, anti-CRISPRs, which serve to abrogate natural CRISPR anti-phage activity, potentially expands the ability to build synthetic CRISPR-mediated circuits. Here, we characterize a panel of anti-CRISPR molecules for expanded applications to counteract CRISPR-mediated gene activation and repression of reporter and endogenous genes in various cell types. We demonstrate that cells pre-engineered with anti-CRISPR molecules become resistant to gene editing, thus providing a means to generate "write-protected" cells that prevent future gene editing. We further show that anti-CRISPRs can be used to control CRISPR-based gene regulation circuits, including implementation of a pulse generator circuit in mammalian cells. Our work suggests that anti-CRISPR proteins should serve as widely applicable tools for synthetic systems regulating the behavior of eukaryotic cells.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas immune systems utilize RNA-guided nucleases to protect bacteria from bacteriophage infection. Bacteriophages have in turn evolved inhibitory "anti-CRISPR" (Acr) proteins, including six inhibitors (AcrIIA1-AcrIIA6) that can block DNA cutting and genome editing by type II-A CRISPR-Cas9 enzymes. We show here that AcrIIA2 and its more potent homolog, AcrIIA2b, prevent Cas9 binding to DNA by occluding protein residues required for DNA binding. Cryo-EM-determined structures of AcrIIA2 or AcrIIA2b bound to S. pyogenes Cas9 reveal a mode of competitive inhibition of DNA binding that is distinct from other known Acrs. Differences in the temperature dependence of Cas9 inhibition by AcrIIA2 and AcrIIA2b arise from differences in both inhibitor structure and the local inhibitor-binding environment on Cas9. These findings expand the natural toolbox for regulating CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing temporally, spatially, and conditionally.
Project description:Bacteriophages encoding anti-CRISPR proteins (Acrs) must cooperate to overcome phage resistance mediated by the bacterial immune system CRISPR-Cas, where the first phage blocks CRISPR-Cas immunity in order to allow a second Acr phage to successfully replicate. However, in nature, bacteria are frequently not pre-immunized, and phage populations are often not clonal, exhibiting variations in Acr presence and strength. We explored how interactions between Acr phages and initially sensitive bacteria evolve, both in the presence and absence of competing phages lacking Acrs. We find that Acr phages benefit "Acr-negative" phages by limiting the evolution of CRISPR-based resistance and helping Acr-negative phages to replicate on resistant host sub-populations. These benefits depend on the strength of CRISPR-Cas inhibitors and result in strong Acrs providing smaller fitness advantages than weaker ones when Acr phages compete with Acr-negative phages. These results indicate that different Acr types shape the evolutionary dynamics and social interactions of phage populations in natural communities.
Project description:The CRISPR-Cas universe continues to expand. The type II CRISPR-Cas system from Streptococcus pyogenes (SpyCas9) is most widely used for genome editing due to its high efficiency in cells and organisms. However, concentrating on a single CRISPR-Cas system imposes limits on target selection and multiplexed genome engineering. We hypothesized that CRISPR-Cas systems originating from different bacterial species could operate simultaneously and independently due to their distinct single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) or CRISPR-RNAs (crRNAs), and protospacer adjacent motifs (PAMs). Additionally, we hypothesized that CRISPR-Cas activity in zebrafish could be regulated through the expression of inhibitory anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins. Here, we use a simple mutagenesis approach to demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas systems from Streptococcus pyogenes (SpyCas9), Streptococcus aureus (SauCas9), Lachnospiraceae bacterium (LbaCas12a, previously known as LbCpf1), Acidaminococcus sp. (AspCas12a, previously known as AsCpf1) and Neisseria meningitidis (Nme2Cas9) are orthogonal systems capable of operating simultaneously in zebrafish. We implemented multichannel CRISPR recording using up to three CRISPR systems, and show that LbaCas12a may provide superior information density compared to previous methods. We also demonstrate that type II Acrs (anti-CRISPRs) are effective inhibitors of SpyCas9 in zebrafish. These results indicate that at least five CRISPR-Cas systems and two anti-CRISPR proteins are functional in zebrafish embryos. These orthogonal CRISPR-Cas systems and Acr proteins will enable combinatorial and intersectional strategies for spatiotemporal control of genome editing and genetic recording in animals. Overall design: amplicon sequencing of genomic barcodes edited with SpyCas9, SauCas9 and/or LbaCas12a, and collected from single embryos.
Project description:Anti-CRISPR (Acr) loci/operons encode Acr proteins and Acr-associated (Aca) proteins. Forty-five Acr families have been experimentally characterized inhibiting seven subtypes of CRISPR-Cas systems. We have developed a bioinformatics pipeline to identify genomic loci containing Acr homologs and/or Aca homologs by combining three computational approaches: homology, guilt-by-association, and self-targeting spacers. Homology search found thousands of Acr homologs in bacterial and viral genomes, but most are homologous to AcrIIA7 and AcrIIA9. Investigating the gene neighborhood of these Acr homologs revealed that only a small percentage (23.0% in bacteria and 8.2% in viruses) of them have neighboring Aca homologs and thus form Acr-Aca operons. Surprisingly, although a self-targeting spacer is a strong indicator of the presence of Acr genes in a genome, a large percentage of Acr-Aca loci are found in bacterial genomes without self-targeting spacers or even without complete CRISPR-Cas systems. Additionally, for Acr homologs from genomes with self-targeting spacers, homology-based Acr family assignments do not always agree with the self-targeting CRISPR-Cas subtypes. Last, by investigating Acr genomic loci coexisting with self-targeting spacers in the same genomes, five known subtypes (I-C, I-E, I-F, II-A, and II-C) and five new subtypes (I-B, III-A, III-B, IV-A, and V-U4) of Acrs were inferred. Based on these findings, we conclude that the discovery of new anti-CRISPRs should not be restricted to genomes with self-targeting spacers and loci with Acr homologs. The evolutionary arms race of CRISPR-Cas systems and anti-CRISPR systems may have driven the adaptive and rapid gain and loss of these elements in closely related genomes.IMPORTANCE As a naturally occurring adaptive immune system, CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats-CRISPR-associated genes) systems are widely found in bacteria and archaea to defend against viruses. Since 2013, the application of various bacterial CRISPR-Cas systems has become very popular due to their development into targeted and programmable genome engineering tools with the ability to edit almost any genome. As the natural off-switch of CRISPR-Cas systems, anti-CRISPRs have a great potential to serve as regulators of CRISPR-Cas tools and enable safer and more controllable genome editing. This study will help understand the relative usefulness of the three bioinformatics approaches for new Acr discovery, as well as guide the future development of new bioinformatics tools to facilitate anti-CRISPR research. The thousands of Acr homologs and hundreds of new anti-CRISPR loci identified in this study will be a valuable data resource for genome engineers to search for new CRISPR-Cas regulators.
Project description:More than 50 protein families have been identified that inhibit CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas-mediated adaptive immune systems. Here, we analyze the available anti-CRISPR (Acr) structures and describe common themes and unique mechanisms of stoichiometric and enzymatic suppressors of CRISPR-Cas. Stoichiometric inhibitors often function as molecular decoys of protein-binding partners or nucleic acid targets, while enzymatic suppressors covalently modify Cas ribonucleoprotein complexes or degrade immune signaling molecules. We review mechanistic insights that have been revealed by structures of Acrs, discuss some of the trade-offs associated with each of these strategies, and highlight how Acrs are regulated and deployed in the race to overcome adaptive immunity.