The Biology of CRISPR-Cas: Backward and Forward

Cell. 2018 Mar 8;172(6):1239-1259. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.11.032.


In bacteria and archaea, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins constitute an adaptive immune system against phages and other foreign genetic elements. Here, we review the biology of the diverse CRISPR-Cas systems and the major progress achieved in recent years in understanding the underlying mechanisms of the three stages of CRISPR-Cas immunity: adaptation, crRNA biogenesis, and interference. The ecology and regulation of CRISPR-Cas in the context of phage infection, the roles of these systems beyond immunity, and the open questions that propel the field forward are also discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / genetics
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / virology
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / physiology
  • Biology / trends*
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Models, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction / genetics