Molecular mechanisms of the CRISPR-based microbial defense system

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Discovery Grants Program - Group
  • Years: 2010/11 to 2014/15
  • Total Funding: $165,000
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Project Summary

Lay Title: A novel mechanism of genome protection in microbesLay AbstractMicrobial cells have developed and are continuously developing numerous defence mechanisms to protect themselves from various antimicrobial factors. Bioinformatic analyses of sequenced microbial genomes have identified a large group of genes (cas) that are predicted to encode proteins of a novel genome protection system, which possibly function analogously to the eukaryotic RNA silencing mechanism. Recent experimental works on Streptococcus thermophilus and Staphylococcus epidermidis have directly demonstrated that CAS proteins provide resistance against viruses and plasmids. However, biochemical activity and function of most CAS proteins remain unknown. To reveal the molecular mechanisms of the CAS-based genome protection system, we propose to perform detailed biochemical and structural studies of three core CAS protein families. This work will expand our knowledge of the microbial armamentarium in general and will help to develop new research tools for gene silencing in prokaryotes and a new antimicrobial strategy based on the silencing of essential genes in pathogens.