CRISPR-based adaptive immune systems

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Jun;14(3):321-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.03.005. Epub 2011 Apr 29.


CRISPR-Cas systems are recently discovered, RNA-based immune systems that control invasions of viruses and plasmids in archaea and bacteria. Prokaryotes with CRISPR-Cas immune systems capture short invader sequences within the CRISPR loci in their genomes, and small RNAs produced from the CRISPR loci (CRISPR (cr)RNAs) guide Cas proteins to recognize and degrade (or otherwise silence) the invading nucleic acids. There are multiple variations of the pathway found among prokaryotes, each mediated by largely distinct components and mechanisms that we are only beginning to delineate. Here we will review our current understanding of the remarkable CRISPR-Cas pathways with particular attention to studies relevant to systems found in the archaea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Archaea / virology*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / virology*
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Prokaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • RNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • RNA, Archaeal / metabolism
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Ribonucleases / metabolism*


  • Nucleic Acids
  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Deoxyribonucleases
  • Ribonucleases