CRISPR-Cas systems have been co-opted by Tn7-like transposable elements to direct RNA-guided transposition. Type V-K CRISPR-associated transposons rely on the concerted activities of the pseudonuclease Cas12k, the AAA+ ATPase TnsC, the Zn-finger protein TniQ, and the transposase TnsB. Here we present a cryo-electron microscopic structure of a target DNA-bound Cas12k-transposon recruitment complex comprised of RNA-guided Cas12k, TniQ, a polymeric TnsC filament and, unexpectedly, the ribosomal protein S15. Complex assembly, mediated by a network of interactions involving the guide RNA, TniQ, and S15, results in R-loop completion. TniQ contacts two TnsC protomers at the Cas12k-proximal filament end, likely nucleating its polymerization. Transposition activity assays corroborate our structural findings, implying that S15 is a bona fide component of the type V crRNA-guided transposon machinery. Altogether, our work uncovers key mechanistic aspects underpinning RNA-mediated assembly of CRISPR-associated transposons to guide their development as programmable tools for site-specific insertion of large DNA payloads.
Keywords: CAST; CRISPR; CRISPR-Cas system; CRISPR-associated transposons; Cas12k; S15; TniQ; TnsB; TnsC; transposon.
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