Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems adapt their immunological memory against their invaders by integrating short DNA fragments into clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) loci. While Cas1 and Cas2 make up the core machinery of the CRISPR integration process, various class I and II CRISPR-Cas systems encode Cas4 proteins for which the role is unknown. Here, we introduced the CRISPR adaptation genes cas1, cas2, and cas4 from the type I-D CRISPR-Cas system of Synechocystis sp. 6803 into Escherichia coli and observed that cas4 is strictly required for the selection of targets with protospacer adjacent motifs (PAMs) conferring I-D CRISPR interference in the native host Synechocystis. We propose a model in which Cas4 assists the CRISPR adaptation complex Cas1-2 by providing DNA substrates tailored for the correct PAM. Introducing functional spacers that target DNA sequences with the correct PAM is key to successful CRISPR interference, providing a better chance of surviving infection by mobile genetic elements.
Project description:Microbes have the unique ability to acquire immunological memories from mobile genetic invaders to protect themselves from predation. To confer CRISPR resistance, new spacers need to be compatible with a targeting requirement in the invader's DNA called the protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). Many CRISPR systems encode Cas4 proteins to ensure new spacers are integrated that meet this targeting prerequisite. Here we report that a gene fusion between cas4 and cas1 from the Geobacter sulfurreducens I-U CRISPR-Cas system is capable of introducing functional spacers carrying interference proficient TTN PAM sequences at much higher frequencies than unfused Cas4 adaptation modules. Mutations of Cas4-domain catalytic residues resulted in dramatically decreased naïve and primed spacer acquisition, and a loss of PAM selectivity showing that the Cas4 domain controls Cas1 activity. We propose the fusion gene evolved to drive the acquisition of only PAM-compatible spacers to optimize CRISPR interference.
Project description:Prokaryotes deploy CRISPR-Cas-based RNA-guided adaptive immunity to fend off mobile genetic elements such as phages and plasmids. During CRISPR adaptation, which is the first stage of CRISPR immunity, the Cas1-2 integrase complex captures invader-derived prespacer DNA and specifically integrates it at the leader-repeat junction as spacers. For this integration, several variants of CRISPR-Cas systems use Cas4 as an indispensable nuclease for selectively processing the protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) containing prespacers to a defined length. Surprisingly, however, a few CRISPR-Cas systems, such as type I-E, are bereft of Cas4. Despite the absence of Cas4, how the prespacers show impeccable conservation for length and PAM selection in type I-E remains intriguing. Here, using <i>in vivo</i> and <i>in vitro</i> integration assays, deep sequencing, and exonuclease footprinting, we show that Cas1-2/I-E-via the type I-E-specific extended C-terminal tail of Cas1-displays intrinsic affinity for PAM containing prespacers of variable length in <i>Escherichia coli</i> Although Cas1-2/I-E does not prune the prespacers, its binding protects the prespacer boundaries from exonuclease action. This ensures the pruning of exposed ends by exonucleases to aptly sized substrates for integration into the CRISPR locus. In summary, our work reveals that in a few CRISPR-Cas variants, such as type I-E, the specificity of PAM selection resides with Cas1-2, whereas the prespacer processing is co-opted by cellular non-Cas exonucleases, thereby offsetting the need for Cas4.
Project description:Adaptation in CRISPR-Cas systems enables the generation of an immunological memory to defend against invading viruses. This process is driven by foreign DNA spacer (termed protospacer) selection and integration mediated by Cas1-Cas2 protein. Recently, different states of Cas1-Cas2, in its free form and in complex with protospacer DNAs, were solved by X-ray crystallography. In this paper, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are employed to study crystal structures of one free and two protospacer-bound Cas1-Cas2 complexes. The simulated results indicate that the protospacer binding markedly increases the system stability, in particular when the protospacer containing the PAM-complementary sequence. The hydrogen bond and binding free energy calculations explain that PAM recognition introduces more specific interactions to increase the cleavage activity of Cas1. By using principal component analysis (PCA) and intramolecular angle calculation, this study observes two dominant slow motions associated with the binding of Ca1-Cas2 to the protospacer and potential target DNAs respectively. The comparison of DNA structural deformation further implies a cooperative conformational change of Cas1-Cas2 and protospacer for the target DNA capture. We propose that this cooperativity is the intrinsic requirement of the CRISPR integration complex formation. This study provides some new insights into the understanding of CRISPR-Cas adaptation.
Project description:CRISPR adaptation immunizes bacteria and archaea against viruses. During adaptation, the Cas1-Cas2 complex integrates fragments of invader DNA as spacers in the CRISPR array. Recently, an additional protein Cas4 has been implicated in selection and processing of prespacer substrates for Cas1-Cas2, although this mechanism remains unclear. We show that Cas4 interacts directly with Cas1-Cas2 forming a Cas4-Cas1-Cas2 complex that captures and processes prespacers prior to integration. Structural analysis of the Cas4-Cas1-Cas2 complex reveals two copies of Cas4 that closely interact with the two integrase active sites of Cas1, suggesting a mechanism for substrate handoff following processing. We also find that the Cas4-Cas1-Cas2 complex processes single-stranded DNA provided in cis or in trans with a double-stranded DNA duplex. Cas4 cleaves precisely upstream of PAM sequences, ensuring the acquisition of functional spacers. Our results explain how Cas4 cleavage coordinates with Cas1-Cas2 integration and defines the exact cleavage sites and specificity of Cas4.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas immune systems integrate short segments of foreign DNA as spacers into the host CRISPR locus to provide molecular memory of infection. Cas4 proteins are widespread in CRISPR-Cas systems and are thought to participate in spacer acquisition, although their exact function remains unknown. Here we show that Bacillus halodurans type I-C Cas4 is required for efficient prespacer processing prior to Cas1-Cas2-mediated integration. Cas4 interacts tightly with the Cas1 integrase, forming a heterohexameric complex containing two Cas1 dimers and two Cas4 subunits. In the presence of Cas1 and Cas2, Cas4 processes double-stranded substrates with long 3' overhangs through site-specific endonucleolytic cleavage. Cas4 recognizes PAM sequences within the prespacer and prevents integration of unprocessed prespacers, ensuring that only functional spacers will be integrated into the CRISPR array. Our results reveal the critical role of Cas4 in maintaining fidelity during CRISPR adaptation, providing a structural and mechanistic model for prespacer processing and integration.
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.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems provide bacteria with adaptive immunity against viruses. During spacer adaptation, the Cas1-Cas2 complex selects fragments of foreign DNA, called prespacers, and integrates them into CRISPR arrays in an orientation that provides functional immunity. Cas4 is involved in both the trimming of prespacers and the cleavage of protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) in several type I CRISPR-Cas systems, but how the prespacers are processed in systems lacking Cas4, such as the type I-E and I-F systems, is not understood. In Escherichia coli, which has a type I-E system, Cas1-Cas2 preferentially selects prespacers with 3' overhangs via specific recognition of a PAM, but how these prespacers are integrated in a functional orientation in the absence of Cas4 is not known. Using a biochemical approach with purified proteins, as well as integration, prespacer protection, sequencing, and quantitative PCR assays, we show here that the bacterial 3'-5' exonucleases DnaQ and ExoT can trim long 3' overhangs of prespacers and promote integration in the correct orientation. We found that trimming by these exonucleases results in an asymmetric intermediate, because Cas1-Cas2 protects the PAM sequence, which helps to define spacer orientation. Our findings implicate the E. coli host 3'-5' exonucleases DnaQ and ExoT in spacer adaptation and reveal a mechanism by which spacer orientation is defined in E. coli.
Project description:The adaptive prokaryotic immune system CRISPR-Cas provides RNA-mediated protection from invading genetic elements. The fundamental basis of the system is the ability to capture small pieces of foreign DNA for incorporation into the genome at the CRISPR locus, a process known as Adaptation, which is dependent on the Cas1 and Cas2 proteins. We demonstrate that Cas1 catalyses an efficient trans-esterification reaction on branched DNA substrates, which represents the reverse- or disintegration reaction. Cas1 from both Escherichia coli and Sulfolobus solfataricus display sequence specific activity, with a clear preference for the nucleotides flanking the integration site at the leader-repeat 1 boundary of the CRISPR locus. Cas2 is not required for this activity and does not influence the specificity. This suggests that the inherent sequence specificity of Cas1 is a major determinant of the adaptation process.
Project description:Acquisition of de novo spacer sequences confers CRISPR-Cas with a memory to defend against invading genetic elements. However, the mechanism of regulation of CRISPR spacer acquisition remains unknown. Here we examine the transcriptional regulation of the conserved spacer acquisition genes in Type I-A of Sulfolobus islandicus REY15A. Csa3a, a MarR-like transcription factor encoded by the gene located adjacent to csa1, cas1, cas2 and cas4 cluster, but on the reverse strand, was demonstrated to specifically bind to the csa1 and cas1 promoters with the imperfect palindromic sequence. Importantly, it was demonstrated that the transcription level of csa1, cas1, cas2 and cas4 was significantly enhanced in a csa3a-overexpression strain and, moreover, the Csa1 and Cas1 protein levels were increased in this strain. Furthermore, we demonstrated the hyperactive uptake of unique spacers within both CRISPR loci in the presence of the csa3a overexpression vector. The spacer acquisition process is dependent on the CCN PAM sequence and protospacer selection is random and non-directional. These results suggested a regulation mechanism of CRISPR spacer acquisition where a single transcriptional regulator senses the presence of an invading element and then activates spacer acquisition gene expression which leads to de novo spacer uptake from the invading element.