Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) are inheritable genetic elements of many archaea and bacteria, conferring acquired immunity against invading nucleic acids. CRISPR might be indicative of the bacterial niche adaptation and evolutionary. Mycobacterium is an important genus occupying diverse niches with profound medical and environmental significance. To present a comparative genomic landscape of the Mycobacterium CRISPR, the feature of mycobacterium CRISPR structures with sequenced complete genomes were bioinformatically analyzed. The results show that CRISPR structures can be found among 14 mycobacteria, and all loci are chromosomally located. Long CRISPRs present in three species, namely M. tuberculosis, M. bovis, and M. avium. Integrated CRISPR-Cas system can only be found in M. tuberculosis and M. bovis, with highly conserved repeat sequences, very short leaders, and promoterless. M. tuberculosis and M. bovis repeat sequences cannot form stable RNA secondary structure, consistent with a Cas6-binding sequence. M. avium repeat sequences can form classical stem-loop structure. A three-step model of M. tuberculosis CRISPR-Cas system action was put forward based on the composition and function of cas genes cluster. M. tuberculosis and M. bovis CRISPRs might interfere with the invading nucleic acids, but have somehow lost the capacity to incorporate new spacers and co-evolve with corresponding mycobacteriophages.
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