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Sequence- and Structure-Specific RNA Processing by a CRISPR Endonuclease

Science  10 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5997, pp. 1355-1358
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192272

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Abstract

Many bacteria and archaea contain clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) that confer resistance to invasive genetic elements. Central to this immune system is the production of CRISPR-derived RNAs (crRNAs) after transcription of the CRISPR locus. Here, we identify the endoribonuclease (Csy4) responsible for CRISPR transcript (pre-crRNA) processing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A 1.8 angstrom crystal structure of Csy4 bound to its cognate RNA reveals that Csy4 makes sequence-specific interactions in the major groove of the crRNA repeat stem-loop. Together with electrostatic contacts to the phosphate backbone, these enable Csy4 to bind selectively and cleave pre-crRNAs using phylogenetically conserved serine and histidine residues in the active site. The RNA recognition mechanism identified here explains sequence- and structure-specific processing by a large family of CRISPR-specific endoribonucleases.

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