June 22, 2024

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Scientists discover potential new function of CRISPR-Cas system

Scientists discover potential new function of CRISPR-Cas system

Scientists discover potential new function of CRISPR-Cas system.

PR-Cas system as a defense mechanism against viral invasion.

In the field of genetic engineering, this microbial immune system is repurposed to modify the genetic makeup in a targeted manner.

A research team led by microbiologist Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst of the Research Alliance Ruhr One Health Ruhr has now discovered this special genome sequence Another function: Archaea (microbes that often look very similar to bacteria) also use them to fight parasites.

The research team recently published their findings in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Scientists discover potential new function of CRISPR-Cas system.


In 2020, biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were honored for applying the CRISPR-Cas system, or “genetic scissors,” to biotechnology for genetic engineering Received a Nobel Prize.

However, many functions of this genetic tool have remained unexplored until now. For example, can microbes use them to fight other microbes that live on them?

With this research question in mind, Alexander-Propst analyzed the genetic material of microorganisms deep in the Earth’s crust.

More than 70% of the microorganisms on Earth live in the deep biosphere. It’s worth digging deeper if we want to understand diversity on Earth, he explained.

Together with his team, the microbiologist analyzed water spewed from the deep ocean by a geyser in the United States, as well as samples from an underground laboratory in Horinobe, Japan.

The research team focused on archaea, which live in ecosystems as hosts and parasites. The tiny microbes closely resemble bacteria in cell size, but have very different physiological properties.

The results of their genome analysis provided new insights: The parasite was significantly rare in the vicinity of the host, and the host displayed genetic resistance to the parasite.

The researchers found the reason for this in genetic scissors in microbial genomes. “During evolution, the archaea took up the DNA of the parasite.

If a parasite with the same DNA now attacks the organism, the foreign genetic material could be recognized by the CRISPR system and broken down,” explains Propst.

The microbiologist is an expert in the analysis of genetic material in environmental samples, and his laboratory employs the latest methods such as Oxford Nanopore technology, which allows rapid and comprehensive sequencing of genetic material.

To rule out the possibility that they were just experiencing isolated cases, the researchers expanded their analysis to more than 7,000 genomes and observed that the phenomenon was very frequent. In future studies, this finding will also help distinguish beneficial symbionts from harmful parasites.

If there is a CRISPR recognition, there is a good chance that the microbe is a parasite. This may also lead to a better understanding of important metabolic processes such as carbon flow in ecosystems in the future.

Scientists discover potential new function of CRISPR-Cas system

(source:internet, reference only)

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