Sampson et al., Nature
CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated) systems are a bacterial defence against invading foreign nucleic acids derived from bacteriophages or exogenous plasmids1, 2, 3, 4. These systems use an array of small CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) consisting of repetitive sequences flanking unique spacers to recognize their targets, and conserved Cas proteins to mediate target degradation5, 6, 7, 8. Recent studies have suggested that these systems may have broader functions in bacterial physiology, and it is unknown if they regulate expression of endogenous genes9, 10. Here we demonstrate that the Cas protein Cas9 of Francisella novicida uses a unique, small, CRISPR/Cas-associated RNA (scaRNA) to repress an endogenous transcript encoding a bacterial lipoprotein. As bacterial lipoproteins trigger a proinflammatory innate immune response aimed at combating pathogens11, 12, CRISPR/Cas-mediated repression of bacterial lipoprotein expression is critical for F. novicida to dampen this host response and promote virulence. Because Cas9 proteins are highly enriched in pathogenic and commensal bacteria, our work indicates that CRISPR/Cas-mediated gene regulation may broadly contribute to the regulation of endogenous bacterial genes, particularly during the interaction of such bacteria with eukaryotic hosts.
Via Amir Taheri Ghahfarokhi