Conserved motifs in the CRISPR leader sequence control spacer acquisition levels in Type I-D CRISPR-Cas systems

Sebastian N. Kieper, Cristóbal Almendros*, Stan J.J. Brouns*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Integrating short DNA fragments at the correct leader-repeat junction is key to successful CRISPR-Cas memory formation. The Cas1-2 proteins are responsible to carry out this process. However, the CRISPR adaptation process additionally requires a DNA element adjacent to the CRISPR array, called leader, to facilitate efficient localization of the correct integration site. In this work, we introduced the core CRISPR adaptation genes cas1 and cas2 from the Type I-D CRISPR-Cas system of Synechocystis sp. 6803 into Escherichia coli and assessed spacer integration efficiency. Truncation of the leader resulted in a significant reduction of spacer acquisition levels and revealed the importance of different conserved regions for CRISPR adaptation rates. We found three conserved sequence motifs in the leader of I-D CRISPR arrays that each affected spacer acquisition rates, including an integrase anchoring site. Our findings support the model in which the leader sequence is an integral part of type I-D adaptation in Synechocystis sp. acting as a localization signal for the adaptation complex to drive CRISPR adaptation at the first repeat of the CRISPR array.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnz129
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • CRISPR adaptation
  • CRISPR leader
  • spacer acquisition
  • type I-D CRISPR-Cas system

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