How bacteria control the CRISPR-Cas arsenal

Current Opinion in Microbiology
Lina M LeonJoseph Bondy-Denomy

Abstract

CRISPR-Cas systems are adaptive immune systems that protect their hosts from predation by bacteriophages (phages) and parasitism by other mobile genetic elements (MGEs). Given the potent nuclease activity of CRISPR effectors, these enzymes must be carefully regulated to minimize toxicity and maximize anti-phage immunity. While attention has been given to the transcriptional regulation of these systems (reviewed in [1]), less consideration has been given to the crucial post-translational processes that govern enzyme activation and inactivation. Here, we review recent findings that describe how Cas nucleases are controlled in diverse systems to provide a robust anti-viral response while limiting auto-immunity. We also draw comparisons to a distinct bacterial immune system, restriction-modification.

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