CRISPR-CasΦ from huge phages is a hypercompact genome editor

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Science  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6501, pp. 333-337
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1400

Compact defense system in bacteriophages

The CRISPR-Cas system, naturally found in many prokaryotes, is widely used for genome editing. CRISPR arrays in the bacterial genome, derived from the genome of invading viruses, are used to generate a CRISPR RNA that guides the Cas enzyme to destroy repeat viral invaders. Recently, an unexpectedly compact CRISPR-Cas system was identified in huge bacteriophages. Pausch et al. show that even though this system lacks commonly found accessory proteins, it is functional. In addition to a CRISPR array, the only component of the system is an enzyme called CasF, which uses the same active site to process transcripts of the CRISPR arrays into CRISPR RNA and to destroy foreign nucleic acids. This system, which is active in human and plant cells, provides a hypercompact addition to the genome-editing toolbox.

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