Research Article

Crystal structure of a CRISPR RNA-guided surveillance complex bound to a ssDNA target

Science  14 Aug 2014:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1256996

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Abstract

In prokaryotes, RNA derived from type I and type III CRISPR loci direct large ribonucleoprotein complexes to destroy invading bacteriophage and plasmids. In Escherichia coli, this 405-kDa complex is called Cascade. Here, we report the 3.03Å crystal structure of Cascade bound to a single-stranded DNA target. The structure reveals that the CRISPR RNA and target strands do not form a double helix but instead adopt an underwound ribbon-like structure. This non-canonical structure is facilitated by rotation of every sixth nucleotide out of the RNA-DNA hybrid and is stabilized by the highly interlocked organization of protein subunits. These studies provide insight into both the assembly and the activity of this complex and suggest a mechanism to enforce fidelity of target binding.

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