Intervening Sequences of Regularly Spaced Prokaryotic Repeats Derive from Foreign Genetic Elements Article Received: 06 February 2004 Accepted: 01 October 2004 DOI:
Cite this article as: Mojica, F.J., Díez-Villaseñor, C., García-Martínez, J. et al. J Mol Evol (2005) 60: 174. doi:10.1007/s00239-004-0046-3 Abstract
Prokaryotes contain short DNA repeats known as CRISPR, recognizable by the regular spacing existing between the recurring units. They represent the most widely distributed family of repeats among prokaryotic genomes, suggesting a biological function. The origin of the intervening sequences, at present unknown, could provide clues about their biological activities. Here we show that CRISPR spacers derive from preexisting sequences, either chromosomal or within transmissible genetic elements such as bacteriophages and conjugative plasmids. Remarkably, these extrachromosomal elements fail to infect the specific spacer-carrier strain, implying a relationship between CRISPR and immunity against targeted DNA. Bacteriophages and conjugative plasmids are involved in prokaryotic population control, evolution, and pathogenicity. All these biological traits could be influenced by the presence of specific spacers. CRISPR loci can be visualized as mosaics of a repeated unit, separated by sequences at some time present elsewhere in the cell.
Keywords CRISPR DNA repeats Conjugative plasmids Bacteriophages Lateral gene transfer Prokaryotic evolution Pathogenicity Reviewing Editor: Dr. John Huelsenbeck References Altschul, SF, Madden, TL, Schaffer, AA, Zhang, J, Zhang, Z, Miller, W, Lipman, DJ 1997 Gapped BLAST and PSI-BLAST: A new generation of protein database search programs Nucleic Acids Res 25 3389 3402 PubMed Google Scholar Banks, DJ, Beres, SB, Musser, JM 2002 The fundamental contribution of phages to GAS evolution, genome diversification and strain emergence Trends Microbiol 10 515 521 Google Scholar Beres, SB, Sylva, GL, Barbian, KD, Lei, BF, Hoff, JS, Mammarella, ND, Liu, MY, Smoot, JC, Porcella, SF, Parkins, LD, Campbell, DS, Smith, TM, McCormick, JK, Leung, DYM, Schlievert, PM, Musser, JM 2002 Genome sequence of a serotype M3 strain of group A Streptococcus: Phage-encoded toxins, the high-virulence phenotype, and clone emergence Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99 10078 10083 Google Scholar Birkenbihl, RP, Neef, K, 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