Previous studies have modified microbial genomes by introducing gene cassettes containing selectable markers and homologous DNA fragments. However, this requires several steps including homologous recombination and excision of unnecessary DNA regions, such as selectable markers from the modified genome. Further, genomic manipulation often leaves scars and traces that interfere with downstream iterative genome engineering. A decade ago, the CRISPR/Cas system (also known as the bacterial adaptive immune system) revolutionized genome editing technology. Among the various CRISPR nucleases of numerous bacteria and archaea, the Cas9 and Cas12a (Cpf1) systems have been largely adopted for genome editing in all living organisms due to their simplicity, as they consist of a single polypeptide nuclease with a target-recognizing RNA. However, accurate and fine-tuned genome editing remains challenging due to mismatch tolerance and protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-dependent target recognition. Therefore, this review describes how to overcome the aforementioned hurdles, which especially affect genome editing in higher organisms. Additionally, the biological significance of CRISPR-mediated microbial genome editing is discussed, and future research and development directions are also proposed.
Keywords: CRISPR; Cas9; bacteria; genome editing; mismatch intolerance.