The Mycobacterium tuberculosis CRISPR-Associated Cas1 Involves Persistence and Tolerance to Anti-Tubercular Drugs

Biomed Res Int. 2019 Apr 2;2019:7861695. doi: 10.1155/2019/7861695. eCollection 2019.


Tuberculosis remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Even if new antitubercular drugs are currently being developed, the rapid emergence and spread of drug-resistant strain remain a severe challenge. The CRISPR associated proteins 1 (Cas1), a most conserved endonuclease which is responsible for spacer integration into CRISPR arrays, was found deleted in many specific drug-resistant strains. The function of Cas1 is still unknown in Mycobacterium type III-A CRISPR family. In this study, the Cas1 (Rv2817c) defect was found in 57.14% of clinical isolates. To investigate the function of Cas1 in new spacer acquisition, we challenged Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) with a mycobacteriophage D29. Newly acquired spacer sequence matches D29 genome was not found by spacer deep-sequencing. We further expressed Cas1 in recombinant Mycobacterium smegmatis. We found that Cas1 increased the sensitivity to multiple anti-tuberculosis drugs by reducing the persistence during drug treatment. We also showed that Cas1 impaired the repair of DNA damage and changed the stress response of Mycobacterium smegmatis. This study provides a further understanding of Cas1 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) drug-resistance evolution and a new sight for the tuberculosis treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • CRISPR-Associated Proteins / genetics*
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Mycobacteriophages / genetics
  • Mycobacterium bovis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium bovis / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium bovis / virology
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / virology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / virology


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CRISPR-Associated Proteins