CRISPR--a widespread system that provides acquired resistance against phages in bacteria and archaea

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Mar;6(3):181-6. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1793.


Arrays of clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) are widespread in the genomes of many bacteria and almost all archaea. These arrays are composed of direct repeats that are separated by similarly sized non-repetitive spacers. CRISPR arrays, together with a group of associated proteins, confer resistance to phages, possibly by an RNA-interference-like mechanism. This Progress discusses the structure and function of this newly recognized antiviral mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Archaea / virology
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / virology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / physiology
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genome, Archaeal
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences / physiology*
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Viral Interference


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Intergenic