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, 163 (4), 840-53

Structural and Mechanistic Basis of PAM-Dependent Spacer Acquisition in CRISPR-Cas Systems

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Structural and Mechanistic Basis of PAM-Dependent Spacer Acquisition in CRISPR-Cas Systems

Jiuyu Wang et al. Cell.

Abstract

Bacteria acquire memory of viral invaders by incorporating invasive DNA sequence elements into the host CRISPR locus, generating a new spacer within the CRISPR array. We report on the structures of Cas1-Cas2-dual-forked DNA complexes in an effort toward understanding how the protospacer is sampled prior to insertion into the CRISPR locus. Our study reveals a protospacer DNA comprising a 23-bp duplex bracketed by tyrosine residues, together with anchored flanking 3' overhang segments. The PAM-complementary sequence in the 3' overhang is recognized by the Cas1a catalytic subunits in a base-specific manner, and subsequent cleavage at positions 5 nt from the duplex boundary generates a 33-nt DNA intermediate that is incorporated into the CRISPR array via a cut-and-paste mechanism. Upon protospacer binding, Cas1-Cas2 undergoes a significant conformational change, generating a flat surface conducive to proper protospacer recognition. Here, our study provides important structure-based mechanistic insights into PAM-dependent spacer acquisition.

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