Cmr-β is a type III-B CRISPR-Cas complex that, upon target RNA recognition, unleashes a multifaceted immune response against invading genetic elements, including single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) cleavage, cyclic oligoadenylate synthesis, and also a unique UA-specific single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) hydrolysis by the Cmr2 subunit. Here, we present the structure-function relationship of Cmr-β, unveiling how binding of the target RNA regulates the Cmr2 activities. Cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) analysis revealed the unique subunit architecture of Cmr-β and captured the complex in different conformational stages of the immune response, including the non-cognate and cognate target-RNA-bound complexes. The binding of the target RNA induces a conformational change of Cmr2, which together with the complementation between the 5' tag in the CRISPR RNAs (crRNA) and the 3' antitag of the target RNA activate different configurations in a unique loop of the Cmr3 subunit, which acts as an allosteric sensor signaling the self- versus non-self-recognition. These findings highlight the diverse defense strategies of type III complexes.
Keywords: CRISPR-Cas; cryoEM; genome editing; immunity; molecular biology; protein-nucleic acid interaction.
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