CRISPR-Cas: Adapting to change

Simon A. Jackson, Rebecca E. McKenzie, Robert D. Fagerlund, Sebastian N. Kieper, Peter C. Fineran*, Stan J.J. Brouns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

200 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Bacteria and archaea are engaged in a constant arms race to defend against the ever-present threats of viruses and invasion by mobile genetic elements. The most flexible weapons in the prokaryotic defense arsenal are the CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems. These systems are capable of selective identification and neutralization of foreign DNA and/or RNA. CRISPR-Cas systems rely on stored genetic memories to facilitate target recognition. Thus, to keep pace with a changing pool of hostile invaders, the CRISPR memory banks must be regularly updated with new information through a process termed CRISPR adaptation. In this Review, we outline the recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing CRISPR adaptation. Specifically, the conserved protein machinery Cas1-Cas2 is the cornerstone of adaptive immunity in a range of diverse CRISPR-Cas systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaal5056
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number6333
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2017


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