CRISPR-based Immune Systems of the Sulfolobales: Complexity and Diversity

Biochem Soc Trans. 2011 Jan;39(1):51-7. doi: 10.1042/BST0390051.


CRISPR (cluster of regularly interspaced palindromic repeats)/Cas and CRISPR/Cmr systems of Sulfolobus, targeting DNA and RNA respectively of invading viruses or plasmids are complex and diverse. We address their classification and functional diversity, and the wide sequence diversity of RAMP (repeat-associated mysterious protein)-motif containing proteins encoded in Cmr modules. Factors influencing maintenance of partially impaired CRISPR-based systems are discussed. The capacity for whole CRISPR transcripts to be generated despite the uptake of transcription signals within spacer sequences is considered. Targeting of protospacer regions of invading elements by Cas protein-crRNA (CRISPR RNA) complexes exhibit relatively low sequence stringency, but the integrity of protospacer-associated motifs appears to be important. Different mechanisms for circumventing or inactivating the immune systems are presented.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / classification
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / immunology
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / immunology
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / immunology
  • Immunity / genetics*
  • Inverted Repeat Sequences*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sulfolobales / genetics*
  • Sulfolobales / immunology*


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • DNA, Viral