CRISPRmap: an automated classification of repeat conservation in prokaryotic adaptive immune systems

Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Sep;41(17):8034-44. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt606. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Central to Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems are repeated RNA sequences that serve as Cas-protein-binding templates. Classification is based on the architectural composition of associated Cas proteins, considering repeat evolution is essential to complete the picture. We compiled the largest data set of CRISPRs to date, performed comprehensive, independent clustering analyses and identified a novel set of 40 conserved sequence families and 33 potential structure motifs for Cas-endoribonucleases with some distinct conservation patterns. Evolutionary relationships are presented as a hierarchical map of sequence and structure similarities for both a quick and detailed insight into the diversity of CRISPR-Cas systems. In a comparison with Cas-subtypes, I-C, I-E, I-F and type II were strongly coupled and the remaining type I and type III subtypes were loosely coupled to repeat and Cas1 evolution, respectively. Subtypes with a strong link to CRISPR evolution were almost exclusive to bacteria; nevertheless, we identified rare examples of potential horizontal transfer of I-C and I-E systems into archaeal organisms. Our easy-to-use web server provides an automated assignment of newly sequenced CRISPRs to our classification system and enables more informed choices on future hypotheses in CRISPR-Cas research:

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / genetics
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / immunology
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry
  • Archaeal Proteins / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / classification
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Crenarchaeota / genetics
  • Euryarchaeota / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Internet
  • Inverted Repeat Sequences*
  • Nucleotide Motifs
  • RNA Cleavage
  • RNA, Archaeal / chemistry*
  • RNA, Archaeal / classification
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • RNA, Bacterial / classification
  • Software


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA, Bacterial