Suppressing the CRISPR/Cas adaptive immune system in bacterial infections

  • P. Gholizadeh
  • M. Aghazadeh
  • M. Asgharzadeh
  • H. S. KafilEmail author


Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) coupled with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins (CRISPR/Cas) are the adaptive immune system of eubacteria and archaebacteria. This system provides protection of bacteria against invading foreign DNA, such as transposons, bacteriophages and plasmids. Three-stage processes in this system for immunity against foreign DNAs are defined as adaptation, expression and interference. Recent studies suggested a correlation between the interfering of the CRISPR/Cas locus, acquisition of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity island. In this review article, we demonstrate and discuss the CRISPR/Cas system’s roles in interference with acquisition of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity island in some eubacteria. Totally, these systems function as the adaptive immune system of bacteria against invading foreign DNA, blocking the acquisition of antibiotic resistance and virulence factor, detecting serotypes, indirect effects of CRISPR self-targeting, associating with physiological functions, associating with infections in humans at the transmission stage, interfering with natural transformation, a tool for genome editing in genome engineering, monitoring foodborne pathogens etc. These results showed that the CRISPR/Cas system might prevent the emergence of virulence both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, this system was shown to be a strong selective pressure for the acquisition of antibiotic resistance and virulence factor in bacterial pathogens.



We acknowledge the help of Dr. MH Soroush for his comments.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by the Drug Applied Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences and National Institute for Medical Research Development (NIMAD).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This is a literature review study and, therefore, ethical approval is not required.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hematology and Oncology Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  2. 2.Student Research CommitteeTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  3. 3.Biotechnology Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  4. 4.Infectious and Tropical Disease Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  5. 5.Drug Applied Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran

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